Friday, 18 February 2011

Not so redpoll

The garden has been alive with finches the last couple of days and at last the niger seed has brought the redpolls in. Most have been fairly typical Lesser Redpolls (if such a statement could ever be accurate...) and there have been a small number of Mealy Redpolls with four of the latter at any one time being the highest count. Currently, these two are considered separate species, so that is a garden tick (70 species!). I was pretty excited by the latter and dug out my old canvas hide. I don't think it has been assembled for 25 years, but dusted off it is doing the job. No unequivocal Mealy Redpoll rump-shots from it yet, but good shots of Lesser Redpolls and some also-rans.

According to BWP a redpoll with a yellow or orange, rather than red, cap is exceptional, although commoner in captivity. Well, I can't comment on how common this feature is but in a relatively small sample of redpolls (<20 birds) here are two showing this exceptional head colouration! The first is a paler bird, almost flammea like in its plumage with a distinctly yellow cap. The second bird, more typically cabaret has an orange cap. Both birds were seen in direct comparison with others with more normal red or deep pink caps. Any comments?

Edit: according to the Worcester ID paper, these caps are not uncommon on first year or female redpolls. 

Here is a screen grab of a Mealy Redpoll on the niger feeder with a Lesser Redpoll. Not a great shot, but it is a digiscoped shot through double glazing - presumably you can see why I dug the hide out!


Anonymous said...

It's certainly been a great year for redpolls. I photographed a orange/red capped one a couple of years ago at a nesting area near Cockmuir Bridge. Some shots are still on birdguides here:


Bruce Kerr

Morg said...

Thanks for that link Bruce. Certainly is a nice firey capped individual. Quite a contrast to see how worn and dark brown the plumage is at that time of year as well.



Anonymous said...

lindy oleary saw one with a very bright orange cap at coate water 20 jan 10 15 swindon absolutly stunning first sighting

Morg said...

Thanks for the comment. I haven't seen a redpoll yet this year - I have baited the garden again but they haven't appeared. I'm not going to give up yet though... I'd like to see another fiery one - as you say, they are stunning!