Curraghchase Forest Park at Kilcornan, Co. Limerick has proved to be the most reliable site in Ireland for wintering Hawfinches since a major influx of 95 birds occurred there in the winter of 1988/89. They have been recorded there in much smaller numbers on several occasions since, howevr this winter is proving to be one of the better ones, with a flock of up to 15 birds seen there over the past few weeks.
The bigger numbers this year are not altogther surprising given given the very large influx of the species into southern Britain in the late autumn. The abundant crop of seeds on the Hornbeam trees in the forest park this year is also sure to be a factor in keeping the birds in the area.
The birds have been feeding high up on the trees so far, making good photo opportunities hard to come by. I finally got a chance to take some shots in reasonable light last Thursday, having been unsuccessful on several previous visits, since I got a brief glimpse of the first two birds there on November 5th.
The site is also a good location to look for wintering Bramblings. This male below was one of up to seven birds seen there so far this winter.
The forest park has a very healthy population of Jays. Their racous calls can be heard constantly as they squabble over the best acorn deposits but they can be difficult to approach and have a habit of melting away into the canopy once people get near.