13th January 2016
Bramfield Churchyard has become one of the best places in Hertfordshire, if not the south-east, to see Hawfinches. They are not residents but winter visitors and one of the birds seen last year was ringed in the Forest of Dean. They always seem to arrive after Christmas and this year were first seen on the 9th January, which more or less coincided with another sighting in a private garden in Broxbourne Woods. I had already visited the site once and saw a single bird but the light was appalling and the bird too distant for a photo. However today was much brighter and so time for another attempt and hopefully some decent photos.
As I drew up a small band of hopefuls were gathered by the churchyard gate who then informed me that the last sighting of a Hawfinch had been at 9.00am. It was now 1.30pm so things didn't look too hopeful. By now ten people were stationed at either end of the churchyard, all looking in vain at the tree tops.
I was positioned half way down the path where five of the mature Limes had been pollarded. A lady photographer was busily snapping the flock of Long-tailed Tits moving overhead when I pointed out a Nuthatch in one of the nearby pollards. She replied that she had seen a Nuthatch earlier, but would really love to see a Hawfinch. In no more than two seconds later a Hawfinch duly flew into one of the Limes in front of us, right at the top with the sun behind us against a blue sky. Moments like this you only dream about. We both clicked away until the Hawfinch flew off high to the west towards Park Wood.
Well, I am sure I will be going back again, although realistically I am unlikely to better today's shots, but who knows!!!