Thursday, 7 November 2013

Coues`s Arctic Redpoll

Lade - 0930hrs - mild, rain clearing, w 2 - This autumn Goldcrests have been noticeable by their absence, so it was with some surprise that whilst wandering around the willow swamp one came through with a tit flock. Several Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers were calling and a Green Sandpiper flew across south lake looking for somewhere to pitch up. Overhead a few Goldfinches, 2 Skylarks and a Reed Bunting. A large flock of Golden Plovers and Lapwings flew over the farmland behind the `mirrors`.
Dungeness - 1045-1145hrs - An hour from the concrete road produced a trickle of Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks west, plus 6 Red-throated Divers, 4 Bonxies, 3 Med Gulls and 20 Brents. Heading east were 10 Brents, 15 Common Scoters and 2 Sandwich Terns.
Dungeness Bird Observatory - 1430hrs - Just as the afternoon was petering out, news from the Obs that, "some interesting redpolls have been trapped", neccesited a rapid change of plan. First one out of the bird bag was a stunning Arctic Redpoll of the northern Europe race Coues`s Carduelis hornemanni exilipes. First impressions, even in the hand, was of a puffed up, bull-necked, mainly grey and white redpoll with a stubby bill. On closer inspection it showed an unstreaked white rump, pure white flanks and undertail coverts, broad white wing-bars, white tipped tertials and white fringed remiges and rectrices.

                                Coues`s Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni, exilipes

Next out for comparison was a Common (Mealy) Redpoll Carduelis flammea, which was noticeably slimmer and more brownish-grey overall with a streaked rump and undertail.

                                 Common Redpoll, Carduelis flammea

                                Common (left), Coues`s (right) Redpolls                               

An interesting and informative afternoon and thanks to David and Patrick for making it so for us  locals who were lucky enough to make it to site. Both these redpolls were new for the year list (210, 211) with the Coues`s a Dunge tick.
And just to complete the hat trick, and highlight how different they are, a yellowish-brown, streaked Lesser Redpoll was also trapped.

                                Lesser Redpoll, Carduelis cabaret

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