Not an auspicious start to our trip to Dorset as it poured with rain from the time Sue and I left London. We had planned to make a stop on the way and as we made our way south-west we debated whether or not to stop. As we approached Chawton in Hampshire, the rain eased a little and so we decided we would stop. Chawton is best known as the home of Jane Austen’s brother and the place where she spent her last years, but this is not the reason we are stopping. Chawton has become home this winter to a flock of Hawfinches, usually a rare bird in the UK. Last Autumn, however, there was an eruption and it is estimated that the wintering population is at least 10 times normal. In some places, flocks of up to 200 have been reported. Chawton village has hosted a flock of around 30 birds. As we park in the car park, the rain starts again but we decided to check out if the tea shop was open. It’s not but from the car park, we can see 4 Hawfinches in the top of a tree, so our visit is not in vain.
Hawfinch. Photos by Segey Yeliseev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)
And so onto Preston, just outside Weymouth our base for the next week.