Worcestershire Record No. 20 April 2007 p. 24


Andy Warr

Worcestershire County Bird Recorder

This winter has produced unprecedented numbers of Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes in the county, but what sets this apart from previous winters, are the localities these usually shy and elusive finches are being recorded. Since 2001 just two locations have held Hawfinch, being the Wyre Forest and the Malvern Hills at Chase End Wood. Both sites have hosted notable flocks, including 18 at the latter in January and February 2004, but it is more usual for numbers not to rise above six in an average winter. Both the traditional localities have held between two and three individuals this winter and these birds are regarded to have probably bred locally.

The first winter record came from Grimley Village, with two circling overhead on October 22nd, and then singles were noted over Happy Valley, Malvern Hills on 27th, on Bredon Hill on November 9th and at New Farm game crop, Wadborough, on 18th. The New Farm sighting fuelled suspicions that something unusual was happening and this suspicion was confirmed when another was discovered in the suburbs of Redditch the following day. The Redditch bird was joined by a second by early December and both were still present in early March. The New Farm singleton was soon relocated feeding in an orchard a mile down the road at Crabbe Tree Farm and put in several appearances throughout December and January and a further four were found at Croome Park on December 10th. Larger numbers continued to frequent Croome Park, with maximum counts of 22 on 14th, 20 on January 15th and 18 on February 17th. These birds tended to feed on the berries of Yew Trees Taxus baccata, so it was of little surprise that birds began to appear in churchyards, including Salwarpe, Harvington and Rous Lench. Other sighting came from Norton, Southcrest, Alvechurch and Worcester, all being in suburban settings.

Not including birds at the traditional Hawfinch sites, approximately 40 individuals have be recorded in the county this winter and one can only imagine the numbers that have gone unnoticed. Presumably these birds originated from central Europe.

WBRC Home Worcs Record Listing by Issue Worcs Record Listing by Subject