I must admit that my trips to the Brecks always seem to be a bit 'hit and miss' in terms on connecting with the target species. Not sure whether it is down to luck or not visiting the right places...?
Decided to head that way today for the first time this year and it proved to be a decent day.
Started of well with a stop on the way to look for goshawks. I was surprised that only one other car was there given that it was the weekend so there was plenty of space to park. It wasn't long before all the woodpigeons were flushing out of the trees and the first male goshawk came into view and started displaying over the woods. I called over to the other birders who got on the bird. Apparently they had been there for over an hour and hadn't seen anything, we'd been there for about 15mins!
Several buzzards were seen displaying (7 in total) along with a male sparrowhawk. After beeing at the site for about 40mins I picked up another goshawk that quickly turned into two birds. A male and female together for 10mins circling around together occasionally joined by one of the buzzards. A great start to the day.
Into the Brecks 'proper' we had a walk around the forest edge at Santon Warren. Probably unsurprisingly the conifer plantations were very quiet with only the odd goldcrest and coal tit calling. The only place there was more life were the deciduous patches along the rides. A walk back along the river was also quiet but we did get good views of a pair of grey wagtails.
Next stop was a new area for me, the back of Grimes Graves. Following the forest tracks we had a pair of woodlark in a recently planted plantation and then a second pair in a sheep grazed area. We looked over Grimes Graves but there was no sign of the great grey shrike from our vantage point. The 3rd goshawk of the day was displaying over the trees in the distance.
Final stop of the day was a search for hawfinches at Lynford. Plenty of goldcrests were singing in the conifers but no firecrests yet, the food put out on the bridge attracted a marsh tit and a nice male reed bunting and siskins were displaying everywhere. We walked to the edge of the paddocks and scanned the big trees. Very little was happening before Sally (and husband) from work bumped into us. They had already walked around the paddocks and not seen anything. While we were chatting I started to hear a 'tick' call coming from the direction of the trees. Sally and I both looked at one of the trees and saw a hawfinch flick up towards the top of the tree. It showed well for a few minutes before moving in to the next tree. It showed better here and through the scope you could see when the bird was calling. After about 5mins, the bird flew across the paddock and into the tall conifers and wasn't seen again.
A good end to a pretty successful day.