All the Redpolls (nearly)

Shetland, Autumn 2012

We did wonderfully well for redpolls overall this autumn’s Shetland tours scoring 5 types out of six possible. I’m very pleased with sound recordings  obtained and combined with Mealy and Arctic Redpolls  from Norway they make for fascinating study. Redpolls are a great target for January foot it birders. The rule with Redpolls is to take  T I M E.  Some are, but many are not an instant ID. they need to be seen and studied (as I learnt again) and yes, very often a clear identity emerges. That said this first one is usually not too tricky:

Hornemann’s Arctic – hornemanni

horny 6

King of Beasts. Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll on our minibus wing mirror. It’s windy and the bird is actually kinda levitating as it gets buffeted. Shetland and Unst in particular is one of the best places in the WORLD away from Greenland to see one of these. Isn’t it?

Northwestern – rostrata/islandica

NW redpoll Skaw

Northwest Redpoll. Varying from  deep buffy and swarthy through various paler shades, in common they monster size and bold cats claws streaks along the flanks. Northwest indicates uncertainty as to origin but limited choice is Greenland or Iceland. This two were on Unst where we saw up to 50 birds.

islandica (pale)

2 pale NW veensgarth

big and small redpolls 2presumed islandica  + Lesser Redpoll. Can’t say for sure and would have liked better longer views, but 2 large birds at Veensgarth looked like Arctic Redpolls from behind, but when turned revealed wonderful black ‘Northwestern’ flank streaking. They were amoung c 20 Northwesterns and a  single  male Lesser Redpoll visible in lower of the 2 photos with one of the islandica types. Greenland birds are all dark.

Mealy Redpoll – flammea

Mealy sumburgh hotel

Mealy Redpoll at Sumburgh Hotel. Last day, 14th October with Harve and the Ridster we had this drop-in that looked the business.

Lesser Redpoll – cabaret

Lesser Redpoll, Sandgarth at Voe. This was interesting. Came across at flock of 7 redpolls at Tony’s place. Took a while to get good long looks but most appeared to be Lesser Redpolls- a pretty scarce bird in Shetland. And there were 1 + juveniles present. Tony said they had been present all summer and clearly bred. One of the birds did look more like a Mealy. This bird in my windy conditions video is a stick on Lesser for me though especially as it had lovely rich yellow-brown all over the undertail coverts- a very useful ‘Lesser feature’.

As with the pipits it was added value to experience from one ‘family’ of birds such great variety. So…Little Pipit Mystery to end on from Shetland, this autumn- lurking in the grass…

mystery oneWhat species do you think? Shetland October 2012

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About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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2 Responses to All the Redpolls (nearly)

  1. Ben Porter says:

    I wish we got such nice Redpolls here- all we get are horrible things that leave you scratching your head wondering if its a mealy or pale carabets! Possibly go for Tree Pipit?

  2. Martin Garner says:

    It is a Tree Pipit. the same bird as posted here.
    This is a particularly well marked bird which flew around Valyie calling (admittedly sounding more Tree than OBP) and then disappearing into grass- and giving scary views at first- just like this. Important to always see them well!

    Thanks for having a go

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