It was a cloudy day with a few spits of drizzle now and then but over the lunchtime period, it wasn't too bad. It was a mild day with a southerly breeze. I decided to go and have another look at the Scaup at Countess Wear to put it on my 2009 yearlist. I parked up and strolled up the canal to the Double Locks pub. There on the water, just the other side of the frozen-up bit, was the female Scaup, still performing very well. Not much else was seen here, even though I looked through the screens at Riverside Country Park, viewing over the reedfringed scrapes.
On a whim, I decided to try and see the Hawfinch that has occasionally been seen at Ide! Now, me and Hawfinches have never got on very well. It took me about 15 attempts to connect with one when we first moved down to Devon all those years ago. I remember standing on a driveway in Doddiscombsleigh (try saying that when you've just come out of the Nobody Inn!), for hours waiting to see one. I also remember finding my first when I was a child, just down the lane from where I lived in Wiltshire - I only ever saw them once again in all my years of living there! In my twitching days, on a trip up to the north of the country, we would often pop into Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire (a proverbial Hawfinch Hotspot!) on the way back from a twitch and view a lot of empty trees! Speech House in the Forest of Dean in deepest Gloucestershire is supposed to be good for them. Nah, don't you believe it - I only ever saw them there once in about a dozen visits! Anyway, to cut a long Hawfinch story short, I arrived at the prescribed spot to the west of Ide, more in hope than anything. It didn't start out too good. A mechanical excavator was making a hell of a din on the hillside behind me, a group of noisy people all armed with axes and saws, trundled down over the fields talking at 40000 decibels and then a large, very noisy lorry crept slowly up the lane taking the half the hedgerow either side with it! I reached a point, and thought "That's it - I've had enough". I retraced my steps, and miraculously, it had all gone quiet. The lorry had gone - it was probably wedged in the lane further on up the road! The axesfolk had chopped off somewhere and the excavator had presumably stopped for lunch. I scanned the fields and hedgerows and the tops of all the trees. I nearly passed it by at first, a pale pinky-sandy blob sat partially obscured in a small ash tree. I got my 'scope on it, and realised it was the Hawfinch sat looking away from me. After several minutes, the bird decided to shift position slightly, turning its head and showing off its huge bill, and little neat black bib! Wow! My first one for several years. I watched it for several more minutes, then left it in what was presumably a short-lived peace!