Hawfinch

21st March 2011
Its been a long standing ambition of mine to get close to Hawfinches. These birds have an almost mythical status because they are so difficult to see being extremely shy and unobtrusive, spending a lot of their time either high up in the canopy or alternatively feeding discreetly amongst the leaf litter. The article in this month's Bird Watching magazine describes the difficulty birders have in locating these birds. I was lucky to locate four Hawfinches last Thursday in the Forest of Dean and noted where they were feeding, one male was swaying from side to side in a courtship display, something I have never seen before. I decided to try to photograph these birds, so I got up at 4.00 a.m. today and got to the site by 5.30 a.m. I had to erect my hide by torchlight and get undercover before dawn broke. It was 8.00 a.m. before I heard their tell tale "pix" and one bird perched right above me, singing. I could hear scratching of claws and realised the bird was actually sitting on top of my hide, this was extremely frustrating as I could not move or make a sound for fear of disturbing it. Finally it landed on the ground in front of the hide and I was able to get some great close ups of this beautiful and elusive finch. It was a very small window of opportunity as by 9.00 a.m. they had disappeared again.
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