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
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
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.
presumed 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 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…
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