In the darkness, at 0600 on Saturday morning, a small group of us gathered in a compact block of deciduous woodland in the north of the New Forest. We were there to attempt to catch and colour-ring Hawfinch as part of a wider study looking at movements and dispersal of Hawfinch around the New Forest.
By 0730 the first Hawfinch were on site, fresh out of roost but (as is typical for the species), they spent the first hour or so in their social group moving around the treetops, pair-bonding and bickering.
Part of the team: Millie and Lara (RSPB) and Jamie Ward (super trainee!)
The first two Hawfinch were caught and ringed at 0850, followed by a third at 0950, and a another two at 1115, giving us a great total of five new colour-ringed males, a good return for the effort (we are normally happy with just one or two, which is the norm).
Second-year male Hawfinch
Very little is known or understood about Hawfinch movements around the New Forest and further afield. By placing trail cameras in a number of locations favoured by Hawfinch we are slowly building a picture of how the species is using the environment. It is a long process but we are slowly unravelling their secrets - the more we learn the better placed we will be to ensure the habitats that are vital for their survival are protected. This work wouldn't be possible without the support of a great team of dedicated volunteers.
If you would like to get involved in Hawfinch fieldwork, watch this space. We will shortly be pulling together a team for a second season of radio tracking.
Female Hawfinch 'HP' and male Hawfinch 'IX' caught pair bonding on the trail camera in the central New Forest in May 2019, confirming a local breeding attempt