Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Friday, 26 January 2018

Kiss From a Rose?

I figured the below should be out there, for clarification purposes for anyone interested.
On 1st June this year I found what I’m almost certain was a female-type Common Rosefinch. Many boxes were ticked – I heard the bird, and observed some key features through my telescope. However, the light was bad to appalling, with the sun right behind the bird in question. Furthermore, after only 10 minutes the individual flew off, and I failed to get a definitive photo.
The bird in question - at least the photo quality can
provide a laugh

At the time, having referenced guides in the field, and studiously gone over the perched bird, I was happy with my identification. I’ve seen this species before in places like Estonia and Poland, but here, in land-locked Surrey? Surely not. I called a couple of friends explaining that I was pretty certain I’d seen a Rosefinch, and set off on a fruitless 6-hour search to relocate it.
I’ve always associated that day with huge frustration. Whenever I think back on it, I recall the annoyance at not getting a clear photo, and the deflation of not re-finding it. Why? I’d been thorough with the ID, and was confident on what I’d seen.
As time went on, I began to feel like, deep down, there has been a tiny percentage of doubt. I remain almost certain it was a female-type Rosefinch, but the emphasis here is on almost. For a bird this rare in Surrey, with the imperfect views and lack of hard evidence brought away from it, I felt like I had to let it go.
Female Common Rosefinch (Wikipedia)
One of the key instigators in reversing my decision was the flyover Pipit I had on 8th October – even though I wasn’t sure that was Red-throated, the moment remains as electric and exciting as the Montagu’s Harrier, Cattle Egrets etc before because, whatever it was, it was definitely something special. The Rosefinch encounter lacked that clarity.

I don’t regret calling it at the time – I was 99% sure (and still am). Maybe I should have left it, and submitted the record. However, I don’t believe learning in birding (or at all) is static, and opinions, influences and just raw gut feeling can shift. For the time being, it remains my most frustrating birding experience.