Bird Sightings

Seen an interesting bird?  Then let us know by submitting a record on our on-line database.  It is easy to do but if you need some instructions take a look at the Submit Sightings Page.  To view the latest sightings just click on the menu item for Latest Sightings.

Some birds are not uncommon in other parts of the country or around our coasts, but may be in Buckinghamshire.  If you want to see just how scarce a particular species is then take a look at the Bucks List.

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Hawfinch Invasion!

Recent weeks have seen a huge invasion of Hawfinches into the UK with Buckinghamshire certainly getting it’s share of birds.  The vast majority have been fly overs, in particular at Ivinghoe Beacon/Steps Hill which is a regular place for birders to watch for visiable migration (Vizmig).

The birds were first seen at Ivinghoe Beacon on 16th October where a number of birders had gathered in anticipation of a Hawfinch passage (based on reports elsewhere in the UK).  Sure enough there were sightings of perhaps 20+ birds in a number of separate groups and there were also reports of two at Bledlow Ridge and Marlow Bottom.  The next few days saw birds reported from Great Brickhill (3), Lodge Hill, Little Marlow GP, Marlow and a site in mid-Bucks.  Then on 21st numbers built up on Steps Hill to 34,  21 on 22nd Oct and amazingly over 90 birds on 23rd!  Since then Hawfinches have been recorded from Milton Keynes in the north of the county to Marlow Bottom in the south.  Steps Hill is still the hot-spot with over 30 seen on 26th and over 60 on 27th and 28th October (although numbers could be significantly higher with multiple observers involved).  There were generally smaller number during the rest of October but 71 seen by a group of observers at Steps Hill on 30th was excellent.  Steps Hill continued to be well watched early mornings in early November and small numbers reported.  However Hawfinches then started to be seen on the ground at a few sites including Tattenhoe (MK), Chesham Bois Woods, Whiteleaf and most significantly a large group at Great Hampden.  These were found by Warren Claydon on 1st November when 24 were recorded.  The following day 42 were counted with at counts in the high thirties by several observers the following day.

So there is still time for you to try and see one of this impressive Finches!

It is thought that these birds originated in Central Europe and one theory is that storm Orphelia forced the birds to fly much further west than usual.  Whatever the reason local birders are very happy to see them.

With the majority of the Hawfinches being initially seen as fly-overs, there were few photos.  Later a few photos were obtained.

One of the only photos obtained in the county during this invasion.. Mid Bucks - Copyright Tim Watts

Hawfinch in Mid Bucks on 20th Oct 2017 – Copyright Tim Watts

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Steps Hill – Birders gathering at first light on 28th October for the anticipated Hawfinch movement.

 

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They were not disappointed!

 

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Watching Hawfinches on passage is not always easy. This flight view is probably better than many of the views obtained!  It does however show the distinctive heavy shape and wing pattern (Photo copyright Mike Wallen)

 

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A small group of Hawfinches fly over. (Photo copyright Mike Wallen).

 

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Hawfinch at Great Hampden on 2nd November – Copyright Jim Rose

The above video was taken in poor light at some distance but does show a Hawfinch feeding on Hornbeam seeds.  The birds may not move very much and are easily overlooked.  In the tree in question about eight birds were feeding but this was only apparent when they all flew out in one group.

Hornbeam is one of the prime food items for Hawfinches at this time of year.  Many seeds will have already dropped to the ground so some birds will be searching through the leaf litter for them.  Look for the distinctive shape of Hornbeam seeds and leaves  if you wish to find your own Hawfinches.  Unfortunately some trees do not appear to have cropped very well this year but Hornbeams are a common species in woodland and larger mature hedgerows.

To see previous photos of Hawfinches in the county, click here.