Friday, 21 October 2011

Icelandic Redpoll

A year ago I was up on Fair Isle. Just like this holiday week I was treated to a week of northerly winds, although this year I have had the prospect of jury duty thrown in to keep me in Edinburgh. As a result I had to turn down Rich T's offer to join him on a quest to see Siberian Rubythroat on Shetland - hope that you are seeing it Rich. 

With northerlies, Fair Isle was a great place to see redpolls of a variety of forms, as previously blogged. The bird above is one that confused me a little at the time. I had already seen a couple of Hornemann's Arctic Redpolls (which I see have been accepted by BBRC as one bird, so maybe I should send my pics in to them), so it was clear that despite its massively white rump this bird was not in that camp. I was hoping to shoehorn it into the Coues' Arctic Redpoll phenotype but it is too brown for that particularly on the mantle and cheeks. Instead it seemed that the best diagnosis was a pale islandica an Icelandic Redpoll which is or is not synonymous with the Greenland Redpoll rostrata, depending on your point of view. Which are or may not be synonymous with Mealy Redpoll depending on your point of view. Which may or may not be synonymous with Lesser Redpoll... etc. Reading Martin Garner's recent blog posts on Icelandic Redpolls, it turns out it is a pretty rare form in the UK (thanks to the difficulties in establishing its identification and its validity as a form), so I thought I'd post a pic here. Actually, I think that most of the redpolls on Fair Isle last October week were probably islandica. I also suspect that a number of exilipes Arctic Redpolls recorded in the UK are likely to be birds of this form.

Northerlies are still the theme of the week this week, although looks like they are swinging east for the beginning of next week just in time for school starting up again. Looks like Peter R's trip up from North Wales to the East Lothian coast is going to be well timed - hope you find some goodies Peter.

A family walk today at Aberlady revealed a Little Egret, which is now almost expected at the site (how things change so rapidly!). Also first Fieldfares of autumn.

Likewise a Goosander at Alnwickhill has gone from near Mega to regular over the last few months.

We stopped at Ferny Ness to eat ice creams. Maybe there'll be some decent birds on the sea - maybe even Stephen W's Black-necked Grebe reported earlier. Sadly not, just a couple of tossers scaring the wildlife away. Yet more pressure on local biodiversity.

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