Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes

Stowe  - March 2006

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Photo copyright Phil Tizzard

A pair of Hawfinches visited Phil's garden on Christmas Day and what was presumably the same pair, returned again on one occasion in March, when Phil managed to get this photo.  This coincides with the influx of this species into the county, although not too many reported on bird feeders!

Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes  - January 2006

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Photos copyright Ashley Boelens

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Photos copyright Matt Slaymaker

After a surprise find of a single Hawfinch by Simon Nichols in a garden at Shenley Brook End on 19th January, several more were located at nearby Emerson Valley with at least six birds present on 26th January.  This enabled several birders to add this difficult species to their county list. 

The lower photo is a fairly typical view of this shy species.  It is easily flushed and tends to perch high up in fairly tall trees.  From below it's heavy bill, black bib and white tip to tail can often be seen, which help to confirm ID.

This record coincides with an influx of the species into the UK, with numbers of birds being seen in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, plus several sightings of single birds in the south of the county at Flackwell Heath, where they had been absent for several years.

Flackwell Heath  - 12th February 1994

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Video still copyright Dave Ferguson

This individual was videoed as it perched high in the trees.  In order to get adequate magnification the video camera was held up to a 20x telescope!  Fortunately, as is typical of the species, the bird did not move for some time!  The site has held small numbers of Hawfinches for some years although they are not always present and are VERY elusive.  Over the years this species has been recorded in several woods in South Buckinghamshire, mainly in the High Wycombe area, although any suitable woods in the Chiltern Hills may well hold birds.  The species prefers mixed woodland but is typically found where there are Hornbeams, usually on the woodland edges.  They also feed on Cherry trees at times.   Anyone wishing to locate this species is well advised to familiarise themselves with the call from a recording, as the majority of birds are first located by their loud "tic" call.

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