The Hawfinch is our largest Finch, up to 18cm and has a huge strong bill, it is large headed and bull necked. It is very shy. It is an uncommon British breeding resident with around 800 pairs. It occurs in deciduous woodland habitat throughout the country, however, although widely distributed, it is very localised, shy and difficult to observe. They are particularly attracted to stands of Hornbeams, Elm and Cherry. Their shy and retiring habits and lack of conspicuous song make it possible for people to live for years without discovering the presence of Hawfinches.
I rarely convert wildlife photos to monochrome, and it seems particularly odd to do it with such a colourful bird as the Hawfinch, but I think it works here. Besides, I didn’t like the colour of the nettles in the background 🙂 The Hawfinch is UK’s largest finch, it has a massive, powerful bill. Always shy and difficult to see, the hawfinch has become even more enigmatic in recent years with a decline in many of its traditional breeding areas. Numbers are hard to determine, however, as hawfinches are easily overlooked, especially in summer.
There are lots of fledgling birds all over the forest at the moment, and lots of nests still being tended. This juvenile Hawfinch was photographed earlier this week. More to come from this individual, as well as some of the adult birds. Hawfinches are closely associated with oak-hornbeam high forest and mature beech, ash and elm woods, where a variety of trees and shrubs provide year-round feeding. Mature orchards and parkland are also used although heavily grazed woodland is usually avoided. They are largely absent from west Britain other than the Forest of Dean, which may reflect climate constraints.
A short Hawfinch video…
This last week has brought excellent views of Hawfinch in various parts of the Forest of Dean. This one was seen on Tuesday, eating what I believe were stones from Yew berries that were laying on the ground beneath the trees.