In the last couple of weeks I've had some lovely times with a local barn owl but also connected with some rarer birds which has been interesting. Firstly there were reports coming in of hawfinches in Bruton churchyard. This seems to be a regular winter phenomenon and they feed in the mature yews for the most part. Interestingly, a local I met in Bruton said they'd been coming for years and occasionally fed on feeders in his garden which is close to the church. This is a well described phenomenon in Europe but doesn't seem to be common here. I found these very tricky to photograph but for what it's worth here is a record shot of one hiding deep within a tree.
It is possible to get substantially better shots of hawfinches in England. Look here for some pictures I took in 2009 in the Forest of Dean.
In Exminster, a village near Exeter, there has been a rose-coloured starling visiting over the last few weeks. As these normally live in Asia and overwinter in India, this was a bit of a surprise and I thought it would be rude not to pay it a visit. Unfortunately, it wasn't very keen on coming close so I got some pretty poor record shots as below.
The third rarity has already been well documented by others. This is a glaucous gull which is ridiculously tame and is hanging out at a nearby park, Apex Lake in Burnham-on-Sea. It allows views to 10 feet or closer and is tamer than many of the commoner gulls that frequent the park. I managed to get a picture of it eating a worm but like many birds habituated to urban areas, it's very keen on bread!
Technical note: For some reason whenever I take pictures at Apex Lake the white balance gets messed up. I've tried to correct this but I fear the colours may still look odd. Some shots were taken in fairly thick fog which made things look even stranger.