Saturday, 22 October 2011

Common Redpoll Galore

An amazing morning on Leith Hill which started with my first two Redwing of the winter (below), typically being adults as the first arrivals.  Crests also had a good showing with 18 Goldcrest and another Firecrest.
But the highlight was another onslaught of Redpolls, but this time I was able to devote more time and caught 134 by 10am!  Although this was a huge count what was more amazing was that 112 were Common Redpoll (below)!  I was very grateful to have Martin Gray and Wes Attridge with me so that we could discuss the finer points of this species ID. 
Adult Male Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll with Lesser Redpoll

Lesser Redpoll with Common Redpoll
This sudden arrival of this species was quite unexpected as the normal trend is for them to migrate over from Scandinavia to the Northern Isles and the north east coast and steadily more south, but this hasn't happened.  The only other place to have been catching large numbers of this species is Dungeness Bird Observatory where they have been catching them since 15th October so are these birds arriving from the south-east?  Another interesting confusion was that the majority of these birds were unusually smaller and variably coloured compared to the standard fare for this species to the point where there is a greater resemblance to Lesser Redpoll.  This is also the same as birds caught at Dungeness (pictures here) and starts thoughts as to the origins of these birds.

One of the few Lesser Redpoll caught was already bearing the ring L977558.

Sightings during the morning included 120+ Fieldfare, 1 Woodlark, 100 Crossbill, 2 Woodcock, 5 Brambling and 200+ Redpoll.

Birds ringed:
Redwing - 2
Goldcrest - 18
Firecrest - 1
Robin - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 20
Common Redpoll - 112
Redpoll sp. - 1

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