Sunday, January 17, 2016

Local Redpolls!

This weekend I've been out on the patch. Mostly it was a good range of the usual stuff (2 species of Woodpecker,  Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk) , but there was patch gold hidden in a flock of finches. The numbers have built up recently and there was about 50 mixed Linnet and Chaffinch with a Bullfinch and on top of a dead plant a Lesser Redpoll.

Way back in the 1970's when I started birding in Leeds, Lesser Redpolls were commoner than Sparrows. In the garden, at school, whenever I went out, they were almost a permanent accompaniment. It did take me a while to be able to separate them from Linnets in winter. I know - completely different - but I had my Grandad's old Zeiss artillery glasses from WWI (he was British but borrowed them from a dead German), and I was young. I spent ages down at Golden Acre Park noting details of a flock until finally I was able to 100% identify them as Redpolls Linnets.

Party of that trauma remains, but the finely barred shawl and distinct wing bar were enough. The other finches routed around on the ground but this remained firmly on the head of a plant. It remained long enough to get a photo. Here indeed is the proof ...

No mistaking the id of that!

one of the many Yellowhammers
I returned today in a light covering of snow, the scrape completely frozen over with some Teal out on the ice, and this time took the scope. A very pleasant hour was spent going through the flock, finding a few Reed Buntings, and about 30 Yellowhammers. And  two Lesser Redpolls, very neat birds sitting out on dead heads.

I know Redpolls are still common enough to not warrant a second look in many places, but these are my first for the patch in over five years of watching. There are a few local records on the Herts Bird Club site so I suspect the cold weather may have encouraged some inward movement.

With Siskin flying over this makes the patch total now 50 for the year.


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