thank you John. i try but the books and websites are often not a lot of help. colour is often different, for example my greenfinches did not look green until one day in a particular light i was able to be sure after many backlit glimpses. the flash of colour on the wing was also very subdued.
i do take your point as it was observation over weeks before i realised the differences of beak and behaviour allowed ID of dunnocks. i had thought they were mutated sparrows ... and female chaffinches and female housesparrows took a while before i recognised the pattern differences. i think you are saying there are no shortcuts? you are also correct about the sense of reward from learning for yourself. i was very pleased to be able with some certainty to identify a couple of birds for others from my own learning.