3 decent birds for Cornwall in 1 week. White throated Sparrow (1st Record), Golden Eagle (3rd Record) and House Finch (1st Record). In theory its been a great week BUT the later is more than likely an escape, Extreme
House Finch would be the second north American bird this week for Cornwall!! House Finch’s are very common cage birds in the UK and the Yellow Variant being what “most” captive cage birds are. They are also not very migratory birds, Females migrate further and a survey found only 4% of the ringed House Finch’s in the survey moved as much as 200kms!!!. A pair of Mexican House Finch’s were for sale in Cornwall in January and others are for sale for about £20. In addition to that the yellow variant in House Finch’s make up c.5% of the birds surveyed in the “Colour variation in House Finches” survey. The majority of “Yellow” variations come from the diet of the birds. Captive birds also show a yellow variation which doesn’t help the possibility of a wild Lands End bird. And just to make it even worse there is supposed to be an Avery next to the Post office in Sennen and although I haven’t heard if they have lost a bird, or even keep House Finch’s, it doesn’t help the credentials of the bird.
Also a female House Finch (which would have been the first British record) was on Fair Isle in April 1966 for 3 days, it was assumed as an escaped cage bird and was accepted as a Cat. E bird on the UK400 list (and probably the BBRC as well).
Even more: As we were leaving Lands End RBA had “Dark-eyed Junco in private garden in Cheltenham present since Jan 8th!” although it was last seen on April 5th and it was in a private area and not twitchable.
EDIT: Email from Terry George, “the bird was sighted early last week (not ID’ed) about 100yds from the house which apparently keeps caged birds”
Hope all that’s correct and makes sense! If not, its not my fault im an idiot 😉
Anyway, I did see it and thanks to the owners of the Swingates house for letting birders in today. Access was limited today and people were allowed to view the garden 6 at a time and no one was leaving without seeing it. Again thanks to the owners for letting people in BUT I don’t think they will be letting people in tomorrow. Well worth the 6 hours (!!!!) spent standing up in the cold even if it is an escape! It wont be on my list until its proven otherwise, which I REALLY hope it is.
Better images here: http://www.swopticsphoto.com/2010/05/house-finch-at-lands-end-8th-may.html
My ISO 3200, c. 1/500s, Handheld, Shivering with cold, heavily cropped, No Noise Reduction extremely crap record shots.