In search of hawfinch!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been trying to take advantage of the recent 'invasion' and see a Hawfinch for the first time. These birds are normally difficult to see as they are quite elusive and tend to be seen in only a few sites around the UK, with the Forest of Dean being one of their strongholds.

On New Years Day I visited RSPB Pulborough Brooks, in hope of seeing one as they had been reported there nearly every day. Braving the heavy rain, I headed out to the reserve. After hearing someone say "hawfinch!" behind me I had a look but by the time I had got my scope set up the small dot in the distance had flown off! After waiting for about 10 minutes to see if they reappeared I carried on walking around the reserve, ticking off 26 species whilst doing so. In the west mead hide I managed to see whooper swan, a lifer, through my scope in the distance. I also saw barnacle goose, lapwing, canada goose, teal, starling, wigeon and pied wagtail.

RSPB Pulborough Brooks

Record shot of a whooper swan

Record shot of a barnacle geese

So with seeing 2 species, barnacle goose and whooper swan, I wasn't expecting it definitely wasn't a wasted visit but still no hawfinches! Last weekend, after seeing a lot of sightings, I went to Capel in Surrey. They had been reported in the churchyard and the pub garden so that's where I headed to. Walking around the churchyard it was pretty quiet until I finally heard the distinctive call of the hawfinch. I stood listening and waiting for them to show themselves but after waiting for a frustrating 20 minutes they still didn't.

But I wasn't going to give up that easily! So today I tried looking again. We started off by walking up a public footpath as they had been reported hanging around in that area. In the trees along the path there were lots of goldfinch, blue tit, greenfinch and siskin so I stood here hoping they might be in that area. Still no luck!

Lacking any hope I thought I would visit the churchyard again. Walking down to the end I waited whilst well over 100 crows, jackdaws and rooks lifted up into the sky followed by a sparrowhawk! Straight after I heard the flight call and above my head were 5 hawfinch flashing their white wing bars! One landed on the top of a tree in front of me and despite the poor light I managed to get a photo, definitely proof that perseverance does pay off!


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