I've just returned to the office from Nagshead and have to share the wildlife spectacle that I have just witnessed. First let me set the scene, it was rotten earlier today with heavy rain and strong winds, but this afternoon the wind dropped and the sky cleared, the low sun lighting up the yellows and oranges of the oak and beech leaves. I was walking the hard forestry track running along the western ridge near the heath which is lined with mature beech trees. I could see a Fallow doe further up the track with her fawn, both were busy munching on the fallen beech mast before realising I was there and moving down the slope into the woodland.
At the northern end of the track I could hear Hawfinches calling quietly from the top of the trees, I stood motionless with my eyes trained on the area where the calls were coming from. I eventually had brilliant views of at least four feeding on the mast still attached to the tree; they were actually quite agile for a large finch, hanging on thin twigs to reach mast at the end. At the same time around 20 Bramblings were coming down to feed with Chaffinches on the track that I was standing on. Despite being in winter plumage I still think male Bramblings look stunning! To my left was a fairly small birch tree which was absolutely smothered in Lesser Redpolls with a few Siskins mixed in. They were constantly bickering and feeding on the birch catkins, there had to be at least 70 birds in that one small tree! As if that wasn't enough, five Crossbills wheeled overhead calling loudly before landing in pines nearby. I backed up leaving the birds to feed, amazed at how many fantastic finches were in such a small area.