Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Redpolls...Heaven or Hell???

As we seem to be preparing ourselves for the confusion that is just around the corner in the form of Redpoll passage, here are a 'few' images of a good selection of the birds I have trapped over the past 3 years. I have MANY MANY more, but thought this would do to start

This monster of a redpoll was trapped on Bardsey in April last Year. Again it was massive as you can see from the Blackcap it is with. This is almost certainly a C.f.rostrata. it is big and dark

This is probably a Mealie

 So is this....

 Another very pale bird with big wing bars

Now I like these small brown ones, they are easy!

 But what is this in May?

The next bird must be a Mealie?!?

 this could/should be too? maybe from the NW?
 What are these?

 Again a Mealie below?

 Large lesser? small NWestern
 More Mealies

 Ad Male lesser...tiny

and finally two more mealies

Well, that is if we are correct in all this, the debate continues!! Comments welcomed.

Also check out the Dungeness BO web site. The debate runs in Kent too as to what these birds are!


  1. Excellent stuff Steve - mind boggling.
    Only a few more weeks to go until the passage starts in earnest. As for the above, I think you've got them spot on - not sure we'll ever be 100% sure, but using the criteria set out in various magazines, forums and web-sites they are all ceratinly from further north or the north-west. There's a fairly good article in Birdwatch, December 2011 which has photos and descriptions of all Redpoll taxa likely to occur in Great Britain.

  2. Anyone got any dosh for some geotags! Also out of curiosity what about isotope analysis. How much does it cost, is it an option? Any researchers willing to do it?

  3. I could always find a few flank feathers. Does any one else have comments in the ID of this lot?

  4. Oh dear I've gone cross-eyed. As Marc said a bit mind-boggling but I think your labeling/reckonings are correct. The one-'what is this in may' looks to be a Mealy and 'what are these' showing two birds must be NW bound. Do you find that the biometrics help at all? I hear people say anything over 70mm wing is more likely to be Mealy but is this reliable. I would be very interested to see samples of say 5 of your most suspected NW bound birds sent off. I'll ask around to see if its possible/feasible.
    I'm also wondering where the hell are these birds wintering if they're passing through in late April/May because not that many Mealies even get reported in the UK through the winter or are they overlooked?

    1. Iv'e lost track now as to what has and has not been submitted to WRP as Mealies. The only one sent in as islandica was the pale bird we trapped from the previous post. I will send the rostrata in as well sometime soon. I also have several birds possibly from the NW that I have not done much with. Rob H have you any more images/biometrics from birds on FI over the past couple of years?

      I have, however, also been told that I have got all these wrong and that they are within the normal variation of Lesser would you believe! And this from a very very well respected birder. If we were to believe that then I think we are stuck so far up a gum tree we would have lost sight of the ground!!

      Not one of these birds above look like anything I've ever seen breeding in the UK. We have Lessers breed on Bardsey and they are all teeny weeny little brown things. If our Lessers look like that and these strange looking birds move through in a six week period in spring only, then something (not sure what!) is surely not right.

      As for Biometrics, all these birds have wings of 70 or more I think. Our lessers are usually in the 60s and top at about 71 (ad Males, again I think). I don't have the data here so I am guessing a bit on this one and I may not be 100%.

      It's all very interesting though

  5. http://www.dungenessbirdobs.org.uk/lateframe2012.html

    Have a look at October and November last year. The redpoll stuff there is interesting too.