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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 12:39   #1
tittletattler
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Redpoll sp

Hi all,

Attached are three digiscoped images of a redpoll species photographed on Skye, Scotland in July of this year. The extent of the red on this bird indicates that it is a male. The worn plumage indicates that it is an adult still in its summer plumage. This bird was part of a loose group of 2-3 family parties.

The suspects are as follows:

Lesser Redpoll C. cabaret
Common/Mealy Redpoll: C. flammea
Greenland (Greater) Redpoll C. f. rostrata
Icelandic Redpoll C. f. islandica

I think we can safely dismiss Artic Redpoll (Carduelis Hornemanni).

· Is this bird just a Lesser Redpoll (C.cabaret) in a plumage that is simply unfamiliar to me?
· Are there any ID articles that deal with the differences in summer plumage?
· Do any of our friends in North America, Iceland, Greenland & the rest of Europe have any photographs of summer plumaged Redpoll sp taken in June/July that they can share with us?

Please try to reference your views to photographs, ID articles etc.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Andy Lawson.
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 14:28   #2
Steve Lister
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Logically the site and date would suggest that this has to be a Lesser Redpoll, and that is what it looks like to me. I know that further north in the Hebrides the breeding redpolls are far from straightforward (ref Outer Hebrides BR 2002, short note by Craig Robson) and also that Icelandic breeders are very variable but generally large-billed. Do you have any pictures showing the underparts?

(Your earlier comments about BF members may be limiting the amount of response that you get.)

Steve
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 14:42   #4
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Suggest you PM Mike Pennington - what Mike doesn't know about the redpoll complex ain't worth knowing.

ce
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 16:19   #5
Jane Turner
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For what its worth I bumped into similar Redpolls in the Hebs this year and had a hello -what on earth is going on here moment. Similarly brown-toned as this bird appeared to be, but with plenty of pro-flammea features. As Andrew Stevenson said, there is a PhD in the offing for someone if they sort out what is going on up there.

What were the utc's like?
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 16:31   #6
Ghostly Vision
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Real Grosser on my list
Hi all,

Attached are three digiscoped images of a redpoll species photographed on Skye, Scotland in July of this year. The extent of the red on this bird indicates that it is a male. The worn plumage indicates that it is an adult still in its summer plumage. This bird was part of a loose group of 2-3 family parties.

The suspects are as follows:

Lesser Redpoll C. cabaret
Common/Mealy Redpoll: C. flammea
Greenland (Greater) Redpoll C. f. rostrata
Icelandic Redpoll C. f. islandica

I think we can safely dismiss Artic Redpoll (Carduelis Hornemanni).

· Is this bird just a Lesser Redpoll (C.cabaret) in a plumage that is simply unfamiliar to me?
· Are there any ID articles that deal with the differences in summer plumage?
· Do any of our friends in North America, Iceland, Greenland & the rest of Europe have any photographs of summer plumaged Redpoll sp taken in June/July that they can share with us?

Please try to reference your views to photographs, ID articles etc.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Andy Lawson.

Why don't you go look in your books for an answer like you normally do, idiot.


MODS - I JOKE, YES?

Last edited by Ghostly Vision : Friday 1st September 2006 at 16:39.
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 16:48   #7
JANJ
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Perhaps the man has had it for now GV.

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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 17:41   #8
aythya_hybrid
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I was on Skye in July and was slightly flummoxed by the redpolls. So, err, yes, I don't really have a clue.

However, the impression I got of the birds I saw and on Skye (and of real grosser's pic here) is that plumage wise they looked OK for Mealy/Common but structurally seemed to resemble Lesser. I mean, check out the bull-neck appearance of some of hannu's pic: real grosser's bird doesn't seem to show this.

When it comes to Greenland and Iceland redpolls, I'm out of my depth.
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 18:09   #9
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I have researched redpolls thoroughly. Just out of interest how many birders regularily see and scrutinise redpolls, have the relevant id knowledge(collins doesn't explain it) in the breeding territories in the remoter parts of southern and middle scotland.

I saw 2 male redpolls similar to this but with white wingbars locally in july and hence reported them as mealy

as a result of seeing these birds i ended up buying camera and catergorise all redpoll as the same species until someone is able to describe adequately what they look like.

what i am trying to say is a suspect the picture is the same throughout redpolls northern and upland breeding range not just where you are expected to find vagrants. hopefully new research will be able to shed light on the situation. glad i am not the only 1 baffled.

i think there is probally a gradual morphological difference in redpolls with increased northerly (perhaps altitude aswell) range. which would support argument that redpolls are 1 species.
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 18:20   #10
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Do I see something wrong, because the colour of the bill looks pale in 1st pic, dark in 2nd pic and ? in 3rd pic?
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 18:28   #11
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My position has always been that Mealy and Lesser are clinal and splitting them was a bad idea (for me who now has to look hard and scratch my head at all the intermediate birds that exist).
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 20:39   #12
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I'll tread warily into this, based on my experience in the Outer Hebs, of several years surveying birds in young forestry in mainly Southern Scotland, and experience of redpolls in Northern Finland and Varanger Norway in July a few yerars ago.

Many folk as has been said already are not that familiar with redpolls in the breeding season. And as I've said before there's a PhD waiting for someone who can work it all out for NW Scotland - some birds I reckon are un ID able currently - local ringers have failed to assign birds in the hand. (and I'm in favour of lumping at the moment if only because I get the same birds reported as different types by different people!)

In my experience Greenland birds are BIG redpolls - bulky as well as long looking (wingshape often reminiscent of Lapland Bunting due to very long exposed primaries, although some Mealy show rather long wings too) They are usually obviously brown toned but with pale feather bases often giving strong pale tramlines on the back. Undertail coverts usually quite obviously marked. Also big billed, and the black on the face and bib often appears more extensive/obvious. An apparent male I saw holding territory in Barra this summer had an all black bill in June (enhancing the black face) and the red on the breast was deep and strong (rosefinch toned) extending well on to the flanks! Rump was whitish with a strong pinky red cast. Autumn birds show a whitish rump but less noticeable. Your bird is not likely to be a Greenland.

Mealy/Icelandic or Lesser? I don't think I can give a definitive answer based on the features available in the pics.

Mealy/Icelandic are usually paler birds with less brown tones but can look browner when worn in mid summer. They normally show decent pale tramlines and have neat rows of flank streaking (2-3). Undertail coverts vary markedly - one I've photographed was almost unmarked and appeared so at distance. In autumn we get some rather fresh brown-toned redpolls with tramlines and pale rumps which often occur when the Icelandic redwings are coming through so these may well be Icelandic as well!! Again when seen beside Lesser they seem a tad bulkier and larger. The pale breeding birds in the Outer Hebs are currently thought to best fit with Icelandic and again the males go quite red often including a cast on the rump. This year I managed to pick up these kinds of birds by calls and song in spring - subtely different from the local apparent lessers (I must get a life!!).

Lessers are the brownest usually but by mid-late summer can become more greyish and faded. They are more variable than many texts describe. They can show pale rumps but usually much more limited in extent than the other forms. Some males do go quite red as opposed to the more pinky red more often described. Usually the undertails are pretty obviously marked. and the flank streaking less distinct. Again they can also show tramlines but these are usually not as strong. Bill goes blackish like other races in males in peak breeding season.

As there is overlap in features being sure what type it is isn't easy - in Iceland I think it is suspected that they have a mix of forms or that there's some element of hybridisation and I think that may be that kind of scenario maybe the case in NW Scotland too.

Based on what I can see in the pics, I would tentatively go with it being rather Lesser-ish:
The brown colour on the upperparts does seem quite strong and the view from behind suggests the feather bases aren't whitish. Buff or greyish on my screen.

The bill in the middle pic looks quite dark still so I assume the extent of reddish colouring hasn't been lost yet although it may have faded. The reddish is confined it appears mainly to the breast and upper flanks which is more like lesser. Not sure of the depth of red but, in the second pic it looks a bit more pinkish (may be lighting effect/dodgy monitor)

Similarly the rump looks more pink than red, but it does look a little large for a pale rump on a Lesser - hence my tentativeness.

If this bird had obviously streaked undertail coverts then I'd reckon it's a lesser (almost definitely maybe!)

The pale birds that breed in the Outer Hebs are also migrants arriving in Mar/April and usually gone by late Sep/Oct. Redpolls of any kind are usually pretty scarce out here in mid winter.


Cheers,
Andrew

PS. Also know a Swedish ringer who rings on an island in the Baltic who has handled birds which should fit all types of redpoll - and these bird appeared during big movements of birds from the east - go figure!??
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Old Friday 1st September 2006, 20:54   #13
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As a non expert I ll vote Lesser Redpoll
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Old Saturday 2nd September 2006, 16:46   #14
Steven Astley

 
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Cheers for that Andrew. The male lesser redpolls I saw in summer were paler than the ones I see in winter and the ones posted on here are nearly always in winter and late autumn. What did strike me was there was pale rump but less extensive than mealy which fits in with what you say.

Also flank streaking was not very distinctive. This feature slipped through the net of both of 3 written sources and my memory that I was using. I did know this feature but forgot!

To sum up my waffle, however messy the redpoll situation is my little problem is solved. I am now comfortable the birds I saw were most likely typical worn male lessers. Thanks very much Andrew

ATB Ste
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Old Monday 4th September 2006, 14:31   #15
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Hi Andy et al,
I would imagine, based on first impressions at least, that these are (as one would expect) 'Lesser' Redpolls, though my own experience of birds in summer is a little bit limited: I have seen loads in areas of young forestry while looking for harriers, but most of these were fly-overs IDd on call. This bird matches the appearance of those that I have seen perched quite well, however.
I do concede that the situation in NW Scotland may well be more complex than that here in S and SW Ireland, however....
Regards,
Harry
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Old Monday 4th September 2006, 14:35   #16
tittletattler
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Thanks for the high quality responses thus far, especially Andrew's.

Does anyone have any good pics of male Lesser Redpoll taken in similar plumage? Can anyone else find some decent pics elsewhere on the internet?

Andy.
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Old Monday 4th September 2006, 14:42   #17
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http://www.davidnorman.org.uk/MRG/Lesser%20redpolls.htm
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