Saturday, 16 January 2016

Carduelis conundrums...

Up to Birling Carrs this morning for a look at the redpoll which has been tantalizing birders over the past week. Sure enough we found the bird in a flock of Lesser Redpolls, we managed some good views and I digiscoped some record shots. Here's a few of my observations of the bird:

  • The bird was larger than the Lesser Redpolls.
  • It was also much paler being whitish-grey overall.
  • The bird's rump was a very striking completely unmarked white and allowed us to easily pick the bird up in the flock in flight several hundred metres away.
  • The flanks were mostly lightly streaked but did show a few darker lines.
  • The undertail coverts had a single large dark streak.
  • The bill looked slightly larger than that of a typical Arctic but not as big as on the Mealy Redpolls I have seen.
  • My photos also appear to show the slightest buffy wash to the head (?)

With my photos and views in the field I am starting to slightly lean towards Coue's Arctic Redpoll, though I may well be proved wrong if better photos are obtained. Whatever the ID a big well done to SS and JWR for finding it.

 Afterwards we stopped at Chevington where a nice flock of 6 Scaup were on the north pool along with the lingering Slavonian Grebe and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. 54 Goldeneye were also on the north pool and the Marsh Harrier was over the south pool.

Druridge Pools once again held a great selection of birds. A Short-eared Owl flew through the dunes and on the north pool were 3 Pintail and a smart drake Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid. The Canada Goose flock in the field just north of the pool held 4 Barnacle Geese and a Greenland White-fronted Goose with 2 European White-fronted Geese. Not completely sure about the race of the geese though!

Next to Cresswell Pond. A look at the goose flock from the car park produced 2 more Greenland White-fronted Geese and a Barnacle Goose. A Barn Owl was in the usual area and from the hide the first-winter Long-billed Dowitcher was again on the west shore. A Water Rail provided some nice views in front of the reeds. Perhaps there's been a small influx of White-fronts with at least 11 in the bay this afternoon..?









The redpoll - comments very welcome!

 Mealy Redpoll to compare taken at Hartlepool in October 2013
Two of the White-fonts at Druridge Pools
Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid

17 comments:

  1. Jonathan, those last two photos of the Redpoll are superb - thats an Arctic surely!! I've seen dozens of Mealies NONE looked like that!!!Out of interest, you see the Redpoll in the 7th photo? It looks a bit big for Lesser too!

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    1. Hi Stewart, thanks for your comments on my photos. A great bird and a great find! Unfortunately we didn't notice the bird in the 7th photo as we were concentrating on the Arctic...

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  2. Guess I'm going to have another trip up there and try again

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  3. Hi Jonathan , looks good for Coue's to me , no streaking on the rump good pointer , very much like the bird i saw on Shetland in 2011

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    1. Hi Rob, thanks for your comment. That rump was very striking! Most people think it's an Arctic now.

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  4. Bill looks too chunky for Coues's. What about Icelandic Arctic Redpoll, though perhaps not big enough. Whatever, taxon aside, it is an Arctic Redpoll.

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    1. Cheers Brett, perhaps I would be best just to submit it as Arctic Redpoll!

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    2. Hi Brett Islandica Redpoll are actually Mealy Redpoll and not Arctic. They are one of the main confusions with Coues's Arctic Redpoll.

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  5. Looks like a Mealy in one of those shots too Jonathan. Good shots though helped me with sorting this bird as I've been unable to get back so far

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    1. Glad the photos have helped. Great find!

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  6. For waht its worth, i saw a few Iceland Redpolls in Iceland ( wouldnt you know) and none were like that, though it was summer....

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  7. From a relative beginner: What makes you decide that the last photo is Tufty x Pochard?

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  8. Hi Jonny,
    Still a relative beginner, so keen to learn why the last photo isn't a Scaup!
    Ian

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    1. Hello Ian,
      In response to your question, one of the main reasons that the last photo is not a Scaup is down to the bill. A Scaup would have only a small black 'nail' at the tip of the bill whereas this bird shows a large black tip to the bill. Another reasons is the mantle. A male Scaup would have delicate vermiculations on its mantle that would appear a pale whitish grey in the field. However this bird has a distinctly contrasting dark grey mantle.
      I hope this helps!
      Toby

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  9. Hi Ian, sorry for the late reply. Both the flanks and the mantle on this bird are darker than that shown on Scuap, and the mantle also lacks the fine black vermiculations of Scaup. The black on the bill tip of this bird extends from one side to the other. On adult drake Scaup it is restricted just to the 'nail'. Also on Greater Scaup the head peaks towards the front, whereas on this bird it peaks at the back, and a hint of a 'tuft' indicates Tufted Duck influence.

    There's a photo of a classic drake Greater Scaup on my blogpost here: http://jonnysbirdingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/spring-migration.html

    Hope this helps!
    Jonny

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  10. Thanks Toby and Jonny - all I have to do now is SEE a Scaup!

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