22 February 2011

Mealy good

This year the BirdTrack Challenge and TEAL Cup (a 'bit of fun' between BTO and RSPB staff) have triggered heightened levels of wildlife recording on the reserves around the two organisations' HQs. Naturally birds have been the main focus so far, so it was with no small measure of envy that BTO staff read about their RSPB counterparts' excellent start to the year on the redpoll front. Much scouring of the modest numbers of redpolls at the Nunnery Lakes ensued, but unfortunately the first two 'interesting' redpolls found did not give good enough views to clinch their ID.

All that changed when a fine Common Redpoll appeared in our winter ringing site, a patch of blackthorn scrub between two extensive rows of alder. The bird in question found its way to our nyger feeder on Thursday 10th February and was also there the following day, so it was with an air of anticipation that we opened the nets on Saturday morning. Sure enough, the first net round came up trumps:

This individual had a wing length was 76mm and the condition of the tertials and primaries aged it as a 6 (the condition of the tail was attributed to the damp overnight conditions). Compared to Lesser Redpoll, the underparts were strikingly pale, lacking most of the buff wash and being less extensively streaked:

Later the same morning, a second bird was caught (also a 6, wing length 79mm), this time providing direct comparison with Lesser Redpoll:

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