My Holy Grail of Bird Watching

I suppose all bird watchers must have a bird they've always wanted to see and photograph. Living in the Forest of Dean, we, of course, have been spoilt with variety. Daily and annual visitors are Goldfinches by the dozen, Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, House Sparrows, Wagtails. We get the beautiful long tail tits en masse for a few weeks, A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Partridges, Pheasants, Red Kites. We have even recently seen the welcome return of Siskins. But ever since moving here the one bird I have wanted to see is the fabled Hawfinch.

I say fabled because this bird is said to be the rarest of finches in the UK with less than 1000 breeding pairs, yet, one place in which you will see them is the Forest of Dean. My local Facebook photography groups often confirm this with sightings and yet I had never managed o see one, let alone photograph one. That is until a bout a week ago.

I wasn't sure at first, mistaking the first sighting for a Chaffinch until U realised, on closer examination of photos that it was indeed a Hawfinch, a female. And realising this could mean a male not to far behind, for the past week I had been waiting at every opportunity to see if it had a mate.

The female had been coming every day, still exciting, and today, the dream happened. The male came in. On its own at first and then with its mate.

You can see how magnificent they are from the photos with their bright feathers and powerful beaks, but more importantly, hopefully, this confirms we have one of the rare breeding pairs close by. Now all I can do is hope to see the fledgling chicks on day!

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