Left to its own devices our world works like clockwork. Today winter arrived with impeccable timing as the Cheviots were carpeted with snow in apparent synchronicity with the calendar. Our normal Tuesday schedule involves a short trip up to Alnwick to an indoor play site that has good viewing of the play area allowing me to work or read as the Tetrad Twins burn off some energy for a couple of hours. We arrived this morning to find that they too had noticed the changing season and had switched to winter hours and we had a good half hour spare. Of course never ones to miss an opportunity the kids insisted we go and park up at the entrance to Hulne Park and scan the trees for Hawfinch as they have listened to me going on about the vast numbers (my high count is seven) that used to winter there long ago, long before the Duke had let his good lady loose in the garden.
We failed of course to see any as in common with several other species Hawfinch has become an extremely difficult bird to connect with in Northumberland. The prospects for the winter didn't look too good either as the Yew trees around the entrance have few berries, although whether this is as a result of a poor crop or just that they have been eaten by other species I know not.
A male Great Spotted Woodpecker chipped bark from one of the large beech and Nuthatch both called and put in an appearance. As ever common woodland species such as Coal Tit and Chaffinch were in numbers. The only other interesting individual of note was a Jackdaw that looked quite pale around the ear coverts and nape, although not even a hint of a collar. Monedula? Perhaps, so worth another look at some point.
An excellent work opportunity came to fruition today involving an overseas trip, a commission for a promotional report and the chance to gather some great material for future articles in the birding media (and for posts on this blog) but more on that another day.
In fact I'm feeling very positive about work generally with several different strands of work/opportunity all bubbling away I feel as though next year could see some of this year's efforts and exertions begin to be rewarded.