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Old Monday 7th January 2008, 17:21   #101
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or the Hebridean conundrum :)
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Old Monday 7th January 2008, 21:12   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenchy View Post
Anyone have a link to a good gallery of Iceland redpolls?
Not a particularly good gallery but here's a selection of Iceland Redpolls, http://myndir.fuglar.is/pictures.php?type=t&id=1037
but you'll discover that none of the birds shown here looks anything like the West Midlands bird. It should be remembered that the vast majority of Icelandic birds do not look like the Midlands bird and are fairly dark but amongst the pale types there are enough borderline cases to confuse us in Iceland. Whilst some may be vagrants, many are part of the local breeding population.
The link to David Sibley's page provided by Marcus Lawson further up (and here for convenience) http://sibleyguides.blogspot.com/200...ll-photos.html
was a real eyeopener for me and the other Icelandic birders I've shown it to. If the birds in those pics are hoary-type (and I'm not for a moment doubting Sibley's ID skills) then the obvious conclusion for us in Iceland is that we should perhaps be a little less conservative about what we call Arctic Redpolls. It's no wonder that visiting Finnish and Swedish birders report Arctic Redpolls in Iceland in summer. On the other hand birders in Iceland are hesitant about calling anything other than an obvious hornemanni Arctic. I don't think the hoary-types in Sibley's blog would attract any attention at all in Iceland. As I said, a real eye opener.

It was an interesting day at my feeders on Saturday. I had the usual numbers of Redpolls in my garden, about 60-80 at the busiest, but for the first time this winter there were about a dozen paler types together. Most were just typical pale islandica but I think a case could have been made for 3-4 of them being Arctic Redpolls based on pictures of exilipes I've seen from Scandinavia and North America. One in particular appeared very large and pale, had a large white rump patch which was very finely streaked, completely white UTC, a warm buff face, and reasonably heavy streaking on the sides on a white background.
2-3 more (I had one eye on my seven-month old twins at my feet, so not sure if it was 2 or 3) were very pale grey birds, with fine streaking on the sides, unmarked white UTC, one had a very pale rose pink breast, another a very pale rose pink unstreaked rump.
Another was stone grey with virtually no brown tones at all, but was very heavily streaked above and below. Then there were several nice big brown rostrata-types.
The new link provided by Rob Stoff is very interesting as Yann Kolbeinsson came round to my house yesterday to try to ring a few and Yann's been using Troy's scale for a while when ringing Redpolls. Only four birds came in the net as it got a bit windy, all bog standard dark islandica scoring around 4-6 on Troy's scale, although one dark streaky bird did score 4 for its UTC, giving it 7 in total I think. Whilst we were waiting one pale bird toyed with us but didn't come into the net. It was perhaps one of the birds from the previous day and we couldn't really come up with any convincing reasons why it wasn't an exilipes, with very pale plumage, fine streaking on the sides, unstreaked white UTC, an apparently small bill (Yann's first comment was how small its bill was). Whatever it was, there's plenty of scope for more redpoll studies in Iceland.

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Old Monday 7th January 2008, 22:31   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob stoff View Post
David Sibley has just added some interesting stuff on Redpolls to his blog site. Americans don't have to deal with the islandica conundrum but its good stuff nonetheless:

http://sibleyguides.blogspot.com/200...r-redpoll.html

Rob
The comments by "James" at the end of the entry are also illuminating...or not!

Anyone au fait with the molecular work (if any)?
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 08:10   #104
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Thanks for the info Edward. Perhaps, as others have said, the key to unlocking the redpolls lies in sorting out what is happening in your back garden! http://www.pbase.com/birdingiceland/image/77869233
Is it feasible that Arctic's are actually breeding in Iceland and going unidentified/misidentified as Commons, throwing everything into confusion? Or are redpolls just impossible...???

Alan Dean has made some good field notes on the Marsh Lane bird here http://www.deanar.btinternet.co.uk/g...rs/redpoll.htm for anyone that wants to read them and see another couple of pictures.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 09:02   #105
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Some interesting photos from Canada of Mealy/Arctic & Greenland Redpoll on Ex Notts birder Mark Dennis bird blog can be found at

http://qcbirding2008.blogspot.com/


Some interesting looking birds!!
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 19:18   #106
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managed to get back to marsh lane this pm, and whereas i had no luck seeing the bird on saturday during a 4 hour stake out, today at about 3pm i managed good views within a minute of arriving! It was feeding with 4 other redpolls, one of which definitely had a white rump! Not wishing to re-ignite the 2 bird theory but this was as interesting as seeing the target bird itself.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:02   #107
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An unpublished image of the UTC.
Steve........
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:05   #108
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Hi all,

I've been away, although noted the discussion on this bird.

FWIW, I would probably slightly favour the pale Mealy theory at the moment (especially if the dark utcs photo is really this bird, although this seems unlikely as no other photos resemble it). It could be a first-winter female Arctic, as I do believe that they could be this dark, but the head looks wrong (in most photos!) - not just the big bill but also the greyish cast with mottled cheeks, not hollow cheeks. I think islandica is a long shot, if only because normal islandica don't look like this and because, as Edward points out, we don't really know what islandica is.

Trapping the bird may prove nothing at all, but the biometrics and ageing (and inhand photos) would be very instructive.

Really good discussion and links here. Interesting to note that, Sibley apart, US observers are very cautious about Hoary/Arctic. I'll have to go back and read the Sibley account again to see why I struggle to see Hoary/Arctics in his account.

If any billionaires out there would like a change from buying Premiership football teams and want to sponsor a study on redpolls in Iceland then please get in touch!

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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:10   #109
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Hi Mike

always good to have your opinion on redpolls! thanks for posting

Tim
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:24   #110
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Recent pics on Birdguides show a good side profile of the bird. The large bill is obvious, and in my opinion fits better for Mealy than Arctic. Looking at the streaking on the UTCs on all of the pics, they are heavy in some, but even in the ones where they are fewer - is that streak on the longest UTC not too long and wide to be within the restraints of Arctic? That said the boundaries seem so blurry that that could be total b*****ks!!
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:31   #111
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Hi Mike
Thanks for your comments.
Here are three more unpublished images.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:32   #112
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reading sibleys blog (commons have two white streaks down back) marsh lane bird clearly shows this?
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:34   #113
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Has anyone photographs of North American Common Redpolls. Do they differ in
the field from Mealies?


S
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 21:57   #114
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Quote:
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Has anyone photographs of North American Common Redpolls. Do they differ in
the field from Mealies?


S
Hi Stuart,
Check out the link in post #105 just a few photos mainly Commons from Canada & interesting some of his birds seem to show a white rump?

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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 22:00   #115
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It might be worth noting Sibley´s caution note in his last comments on his blog.

"I see a lot of blog visitors coming from "across the pond", where there is a very interesting ongoing discussion of a pale redpoll on Birdforum and the Surfbirds forum. I'm sure it hardly needs to be said, but I would be cautious about applying ID criteria from one side of the ocean to the other. These birds are regionally variable - and the species differences we are talking about are so slight - that a small shift in the average paleness of one population will confuse the issue. The questions are basically the same, but the precise details of the answer may be different in Europe and North America. Just something to keep in mind."

I wonder if Troy in Auk (1985), refered to and available by Sibley as a pdf file, considered the age factor in his study?

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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 22:06   #116
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Just a thought (Slap me doen if i'm wrong!) most of the photos (this side of the pond & over there)all tend to show that small bill with pushed in face (even if thats a feathering effect) even with the longer billed birds? (With Arctic that is)
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 22:14   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Hutton View Post
Just a thought (Slap me doen if i'm wrong!) most of the photos (this side of the pond & over there)all tend to show that small bill with pushed in face (even if thats a feathering effect) even with the longer billed birds? (With Arctic that is)
not all that ive seen.looked at so many photos at so many sites so can't remember where but a page of just arctic redpoll heads and the bill show a range of longer billed birds.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 22:22   #118
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not all that ive seen.looked at so many photos at so many sites so can't remember where but a page of just arctic redpoll heads and the bill show a range of longer billed birds.
Dave,

JanJ posted on post #19 photos of Mealy/Arctic head shots & most if not all the Arctics show that pushed in jizz! compared to the Common/Mealy polls

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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 22:37   #119
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Dave,

JanJ posted on post #19 photos of Mealy/Arctic head shots & most if not all the Arctics show that pushed in jizz! compared to the Common/Mealy polls

Dave
just looked back at janj post thats not the one ive seen, a similar one with whole page mealys/ common and a whole page of arctics.
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Old Tuesday 8th January 2008, 22:52   #120
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Baffled

This debate is going way over my head. So i am waiting for a conclusion to it, if there ever is one.
The bird that I saw was pure white on the underside untill the wind blew the plumage up causing a shadow effect.I have posted a few pics on the site below. Having seen Lees pics with the darker area near the vent, It appears to me to be a different bird but as mentioned before why haven't they been seen together.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7780280...807022/detail/

Paul

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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 06:00   #121
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Recent pics on Birdguides show a good side profile of the bird. The large bill is obvious, and in my opinion fits better for Mealy than Arctic.
Yes, definitely so. The problem is that some Arctics may also show large looking bills. Look at the one at the bottom of this page:

http://web.telia.com/~u15702529/falt...nas_nabbar.htm

More Arctic Redpoll bills:
http://web.telia.com/~u15702529/falt...sisknabbar.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan pointon View Post
Looking at the streaking on the UTCs on all of the pics, they are heavy in some, but even in the ones where they are fewer - is that streak on the longest UTC not too long and wide to be within the restraints of Arctic?
The streak is wide, but still within the restraints of Arctic (I'm a firm believer that Lee's bird was a different one, sorry Lee!), compare to these Arctic Redpolls:

http://www.tarsiger.com/images/karai...13102004_6.jpg
http://www.tarsiger.com/images/hande/carhor1a.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by dave123 View Post
reading sibleys blog (commons have two white streaks down back) marsh lane bird clearly shows this?
I'm not sure how useful this feature is, Arctics can also have a whitish central back:
http://www.tarsiger.com/images/komi/car_hor_pk_2785.jpg
http://www.tarsiger.com/images/kunsa...4_DSC_8661.jpg

Many seem to be talking of the cold grey general colour of the bird, I have believed that it is mainly a feature of adult Arctic Redpolls, while 1st winter birds are usually rather buffish (although there probably is some variation):
http://www.tarsiger.com/images/komi/...1_001_1461.jpg

To sum it up for my part, the best feature (the rump) points towards Arctic, while the other features are probably better for Mealy (but many still within the variation of Arctic). It is impossible for me to say where the line should be drawn.

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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 06:06   #122
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Originally Posted by CORVUS1 View Post
This debate is going way over my head. So i am waiting for a conclusion to it, if there ever is one.
The bird that I saw was pure white on the underside untill the wind blew the plumage up causing a shadow effect.I have posted a few pics on the site below. Having seen Lees pics with the darker area near the vent, It appears to me to be a different bird but as mentioned before why haven't they been seen together.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7780280...807022/detail/

Paul
paul you aint the only one - but i am trying to follow the thread closely. As i said there are definitely 2 white-rumped redpolls - the extremely pale one with greyish head and back contrasting with the browner tail, then another redpoll with uniformly browner upperparts and white streaked underparts that took to flight exposing the white rump. The other 3 birds that took to flight simultaneosuly had brown rumps.

Even after that a Lesser was dangling to reveal snow white underparts that led one birder to think he had relocated the target bird, but this was just another lesser with a brownish rump). If there is one thing I have learnt it is the variety of underpart colour od Lessers!

I can't contribute much at this level, but even if my post is to be by-passed by the majority, i would like to add to the debate that there is definitely two white rumped birds at marsh lane. I know what I saw - and I saw this well, albeit fairly briefly.
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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 07:47   #123
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Thanks for the info Edward. Perhaps, as others have said, the key to unlocking the redpolls lies in sorting out what is happening in your back garden! http://www.pbase.com/birdingiceland/image/77869233
Is it feasible that Arctic's are actually breeding in Iceland and going unidentified/misidentified as Commons, throwing everything into confusion? Or are redpolls just impossible...???
Hi Frenchy

The possibility of a population of breeding Arctics has been raised before (in BWP concise for one) but others (e.g. Knox) consider it unlikely. If there is, then there aren't many of them. But the possibility of us misidentifying birds is pretty high I'd think! The fact that the bird in Yann's photo in the link you provided has still not been conclusively identified shows how wary we are of giving anything a name (although surely it must be an Arctic Redpoll. Probably). We found that one when looking for this one
http://www.hi.is/~yannk/myndir/rarit...rhor160407.jpg
and there were a lot pale redpolls around that day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Pennington
If any billionaires out there would like a change from buying Premiership football teams and want to sponsor a study on redpolls in Iceland then please get in touch!
Iceland might be the most expensive country in the world but millionaires would probably suffice. And if they do materialise, get in touch, I've got a spare room with plenty of Redpoll subjects waiting to be mist-netted outside the window. I'll even take my Gary Neville shrine down for you.

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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 14:08   #124
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With regard to Common(Mealy) and Arctic(Exiples) Redpolls in the field here in Sweden I would say the following...

These birds, both species that is, display a wide degree of individual variation. I have spent a great deal of time studying Mealy Redpoll in particular here over the last three winters, partially due to the fact there is little else to see on many days here in the winter! They are fabulous birds and I will never tire of watching them. Will admit to almost tearing my hair out on several occasions, such is the variability among Mealy Redpoll, though have managed to see at least sixteen Exiples in that time, with many more possibles, some of which I just did not get good enough views of and others I simply had to leave alone, mostly female types. There will always be individuals that may not be identifiable in the field, those that fall into the grey area, so to speak. However I do feel that given good views and careful observation many of these birds can be sorted out if the observer takes an analytical approach in clinching several key pointers that go towards establishing the identification of these birds. Basically a suite of several features will add up to the full picture, whereas reliance on just a couple of more obvious field marks can lead to an inconclusive identification.
When scanning through a Redpoll flock on the deck I find it useful to concentrate mainly on the flanks initially, as well as simultaneously looking for pallid birds that may stand out amongst their Mealy relatives. I use these criteria solely for the reason that generally speaking they work as pointers to interesting individuals in the field under normal viewing conditions. Birds perched overhead may give opportunity to scrutinize the undertail coverts, which is very useful, the problem with overhead birds is that they often fly away! An ideal situation is one where the birds are feeding heavily in an area and are settled there as a result. It should be noted that here in Sweden the situation is different to the UK in that the vast majority of Redpolls are Mealy. Lesser Redpolls do occur here in small numbers,(and are readily identifiable in general) but Mealy is the predominent species from which the others are picked out.
It helps hugely if the bird can be sexed and aged if possible from the start. Any potentially interesting individual that stands out can then then be studied carefully for the following features;
(a)Rump; hopefully extensive clean white rump extending onto lower back! Not always so easy though. Exiples often shows fine pin streaks, particularily female plumages, though the rump should still be rather clean as a rule. Mealy can also display an extensively white rump, though generally only amongst males. Most of these birds will show some fine streaking on close inspection. Further complicated at times by fluffed out plumage, especially in cold conditions, which can conceal streaking and give an 'Exiples' impression. Careful observation over time will reveal any streaks present.
(b)Flanks; a rather useful feature of the large majority of Exiples is reduced flank streaking (in comparison to Mealy) over clean whitish flanks. Streaking is often broken and appearing as a series of isolated marks as the result of reduced dark feather shaft markings. Some show small, isolated dark spots on the breast.Some adult Exiples display completely clean flanks. The vast majority of Mealy's show heavily marked flanks over rather grey/brown smudged flanks. Pale Mealy Redpolls(usually male) may display whitish flanks but usually still remain heavily streaked nevertheless. Variables again occur in Mealy Redpoll, the species can show rather reduced flank streaking, though usually usually still appear as unbroken lines along the flank.
(c)Undertail Covert's; Hopefully snow white! Exiples often displays thin shaft streaks on the undertail however. On males this is often confined to a single streak on the longest undertail covert, with some first winter birds displaying a number of thin streaks. Female Exiples, both adult and in particular First Winter often display thin shaft streaking on the undertail. Mealy Redpolls generally display noticable, often heavy triangulated streaks on the undertail covert shafts, especially females. Rarely Mealy Redpoll displays a clean undertail, often with buff tones. More commonly I have seen males with reduced streaking confined to the longest posterior undertail coverts.
(d) Bill; As mentioned on the thread here Exiples usually shows a smaller bill with a straight edged culmen which makes it appear a lot less bulky than on that of Mealy. Exiples 'facial expression' is often markedly different to Mealy, appearing more gentile, smaller eyed and smaller billed, giving it a subtle difference in jizz in the field. This can be exagerated further by exiples tendency to fluff out its plumage in cold weather, making the face apear proportionally smaller.
(e)Ear Coverts; Exiples shows a diffuse darker border to the ear coverts and paler central area devoild of any markings. Mealy shows more uniform ear covert's often mottled at the centre giving the face an overall darker impression.
(f)Plumage Tones; Exiples often dislays rather cold pale yellow ochre tones around the head, sides of neck and breast, sometimes also on the back. Exiples also has a tendency to appear paler on the scapulars, particularily the lower scaps.(Often on male birds) Mealy generally shows dirty brown tones in the plumage, often extensive and striking white braces on the mantle which can vary in extent. Pale Mealy's are not unusual but the individuals I have seen have looked just that, rather pale, white washed versions of the 'standard Mealy without he yellow ochre tones observed on Exiples. Often these birds display clean white underparts which are rather toneless, yet retain the heavy flank streaks that seem a very good indicator of Mealy Redpoll.
(g) Tail Feathers;Very hard to establish, but given good views at fairly close range First Winter Exiples has pointed feather tips, with fresher fringes. Mealy has rounded, often worn fringes at the tail tips. not sure why, assume there is a different moult strategy among the species?(Perhaps someone out there can comment on this?)
(h)Tarsi Feathering; Exiples has rather heavily feathered tarsi in all plumages, presumably an adaptation to life in colder climes.

I respect that I have only have to deal with Mealy, Exiples Arctic and Lesser Redpolls here in Stockholm and that if one were birding the Northern Isles of Scotland the situation may well be more complex with Icelandic and Hoary Arctic birds to consider. I do think though that given good, lengthy views and a degree of care most birds should be identifiable. A familiarity with Mealy Redpoll is of course a huge aid to identifying Exiples Arctics, luckily for me Mealy is not in short supply here in Sweden, though the case is very different in the UK for example, so if one turns up near you, go have a look, you won't regret it!(cracking birds they are!)
Having said all that I will say that no doubt at some point in the near future I might well be seen tearing my hair out beside a sunflower bed here in Stockholm, part of the deal with Redpolls is that they are a real challenge and are likely to stay that way for a long time yet...

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Old Wednesday 9th January 2008, 16:36   #125
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Although a very interesting and much needed debate (both sides of the Atlantic) I don´t want to be the pessimist here - but we might perhaps be forced to live (for how long?) with the possibilities that the Arctic/Mealy problematics lies in the suggestion that Redpoll identification is more difficult in autumn and winter since 1st winter/adult females and some 1st winter males are darker and more streaked, just to become paler and more identifiable as Arctic after the first complete moult the next autumn. Since many pale Mealy occurs and causing problems these 'intermediates' should be left unidentified according to Molau - (mentioned earlier)
Question is how common these 'intermediates' are. According to Svensson out of 664 examined skins of flammea and exilipes from N. Fenno-Scandia, he regarded only about a dozen as true intermediates, thus difficult to asign to one of either species.

Also this note by Dean in his comments about the West Midland Redpoll should be noted.

[ Ageing: It has been asserted that this individual is in its first-winter (at which age greater extent of streaking could be anticipated). This seems to be based upon the 'pointed tail feathers'. However, my reading of e.g. Svensson, is that adults may have either rounded or rather pointed outer tail-feathers, so only if these feathers are evidently rounded is this significant. Also, at least one of Steve Seal's photos ( www.steveseal.fotopic.net/p47560278.html ) indicates that the central, shorter tail-feathers have quite rounded tips. This is possible in a 1Y, as the central tail-feathers are sometimes moulted, but this is apparently rare. Adults undergo a complete post-breeding moult and are in relatively fresh plumage through to 'at least November', whereas by that time most birds of the year have more evidently worn tips to the tail-feathers. Does the plumage and state of wear of this individual allow unequivocal ageing? An experienced ringer could advise, no doubt, from the exceedingly sharp photos in Steve Seal's gallery.]

In the link below the first 4 are adults (first probably a male). Nr 5 1cy male, nr 6 1cy female, nr 7 1cy female, nr 8 1cy female, nr 9 1cy male.

http://www.sofnet.org/index.asp?lev=1804&typ=1

Some more (klick on 'sidan' for more images)

http://www.praktejder.se/images/0410...aMN-041030.htm

http://www.ilbirds.com/index.php?top....0Cheers,-greg

JanJ

Last edited by JANJ : Wednesday 9th January 2008 at 17:01.
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