Boom in rare bird species

Britain’s birdwatchers are in a flutter over a huge influx of the normally rare hawfinch

13th November 2017

It’s a species that’s normally scarcely seen in the UK – but this winter, the numbers sighted are soaring.

The bird is the hawfinch – and they have been spotted in their hundreds this autumn in southern England and Wales.

Why the spike in sightings? The RSPB explains that in autumn, the hawfinch normally migrates to the Mediterranean from its breeding grounds in central Europe. But this year, the migrating birds flew straight into Storm Ophelia – deflecting them northwards, to the UK.

Lizzie Bruce, warden at RSPB Headquarters The Lodge nature reserve in Bedfordshire, said “In our county alone over 230 hawfinches have been counted. That’s extraordinary, as in most years we are lucky to see one or two. At The Lodge we’ve had up to four hawfinches in the tops of the birch and yew trees, with single birds flying over most days in October. This has caused great excitement for our visitors and RSPB staff, who have been dropping everything and running out the office to catch a glimpse of one perched at the top of a tree.’’

See for yourselves

If you want to spot a hawfinch, look out for a bird with a handsome chestnut head, rose-pink breast and black-and-white wing markings. They flock together at dusk to roost in trees for the night, and will also gather during the day to look for food.


...about the hawfinch at


PICTURE: Getty Images


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