With the shopping done yesterday and rain forecast for later today I thought I would take the kids out somewhere nice. I had been telling them about a post I read on Birdforum about Hawfinch feeding on the 'flowers' of Yew trees at this time of year. Imagine my surprise when the observant little people reminded me that there were lots of Yew Trees at Wallington Hall and there used to be Hawfinch records from there in the last century (how old does that make you feel being able to use that phrase?)
Actually they said 'Ba' but I interpreted that as a request to go to Wallington and look for Hawfinch.
We wandered around Wallington Gardens run by the National Trust, finding the occasional Nuthatch and Treecreeper and lots of empty Yew Trees. It's quiet at this time of year but obviously gets busier in season and visitors must feed the woodland birds I suspect. I say this as half way around we were ambushed by two of the tamest Robins I have seen for a while, one of which hopped out of sight below my crouched knee at one point.
Knowing the kids would drop off for a short nap after we left I thought I'd drive the extra ten minutes and go to Winter's Gibbet to have a quick look for raptors and grouse. Two Common Buzzard drifted over a patch of clear fell just before the Gibbet. There were two birders with cars at the Gibbet so I carried on to the small car park about 1m west and began to scope around the moorland. After three minutes I noticed a movement on a wall about 500m away to the South West, locked on and species one hundred for the year list. You want the ton up to be a couple of things, 1) self found and 2) a decent bird so the male Peregrine I had locked onto satisfied both and stayed put for at least ten minutes preening and watching, cracking bird.
I drove back to the Gibbet and pulled in to find the two birders were Andy Mclevy and Alan Gilbertson who had been watching two Northern Goshawk about 1km north a few minutes earlier.
We had a brief chat, mostly about Beacon Hill, Andy commenting that because of altitude he thinks Beacon Hill is 'two weeks behind everywhere else' and AG noting concern about the Red Squirrel population there.
I picked up one then another raptor to the north with bins, we dashed for scopes and sure enough after ADMc picked up another we had three Northern Goshawk soaring although I only ever had views of two in the same scope field at the same time, a male and female with the size difference obvious even at this distance.
The lack of motion and engine noise woke the kids after a while so I had to depart, the homeward journey was surprisingly quiet, I think the kids were stunned into silence when ADMc stuck his head in the car to say Hallo...