Now fortunately I have never come close to being in this position and I don't intend changing that situation, but I guess that most natural history is about little victories. I've known the call made by Hawfinches for several year but there's a lot of difference between knowing something and having it really ingrained in your brain. As an example, I tend to pick up on the song or call of Wood Warblers long before other birders but I have never heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in three years of studying Wood Warblers, except once - when I was joined by an RSPB researcher who had studied Lesser Spots and she picked up on one within an hour!
Back to Hawfinches. As I say, I know the call but on several occasions last summer I found myself sitting somewhere and realising after about 10 minutes that there had been a Hawfinch calling above my head all along. This morning I was driving slowly through the New Forest on my way to survey Hawfinches. I had the window open and the radio on as I approached Millyford Bridge when I heard a tic call - like Robin alarm call but more metallic and more abruptly ended - Hawfinch! Now I know it's a small victory, and I really shouldn't be as chuffed as I am, but it's a victory nevertheless. Now if I can just find a Lesser Spot.