Common Rosefinch 23.5.2012 Princetown  Mike DanielsCommon Rosefinch, 1st summer male, 23.5.2012 © Mike Daniels

ArticlesCommon Rosefinch

During the afternoon of 23 May 2012, one of the few sunny days of the summer so far, our neighbour Gary was home early having a cup of tea in the garden watching several families of house sparrows and numerous siskins feeding when he became aware of a bird that he did not recognise. It was a rather plain grey/brown looking sparrow-sized bird, it settled on a nearby tree and he got the binoculars on it and could see wing bars and noted it had a chunkier bill than the house sparrows. A short while later Gary heard it “sing” just the occasional short phrase.

We had been out at the time but on returning home we received a phone call from Gary and Anna saying they could still hear a bird singing in the trees which they were struggling to identify but thought it might be a Common Rosefinch. We hurried next door and after looking around the trees, field and hedges the bird was seen again in a tree near the garage, and a photograph was taken. Their son Mark had recorded the song on his mobile phone and down loaded various bird Apps and they compared their song to the bird and this confirmed their identification.  

We phoned George and Julia Harris and several other friends and they came up to see the bird, listened to its song and agreed that it was indeed a first summer male Common Rosefinch with a short song that went something like “pleased to see you”.  Soon after 7.30pm it flew across the main road and was lost from sight and we all assumed it had moved on and we drifted home only to receive another phone call to say that the bird had flown towards our garden. We found it on one of our bird feeders, from where it had an argument with a Greenfinch. More photographs were taken and these showed the bird more closely and confirming it as a first year male Common Rosefinch. The news was put out on the Devon Blog late that evening. Next morning several people checked the surrounding area thoroughly but sadly the bird had moved on.

The only other record of Common Rosefinch on Dartmoor, which was also the first inland record for Devon, was one that flew into Tony John’s ringing net at Sampford Spiney late afternoon on 29 May 2007. 

Looking at records on Birdguides there was an influx of Common Rosefinch in the last week of May this year with at least 14 birds reported from Devon to the Outer Hebrides.

Common Rosefinches have been recorded on Lundy in all except four years from 1978 to 2011. There it is seen as “an uncommon but regular migrant in autumn, primarily in September and October”. 

Mike Daniels