Sunday, 31 October 2010

Red Heads, Tails, and the bit in the middle!

We often get groups of Redpolls flying over and with three closely related species. with similar calls flight views aren't really good enough to pick out anything that deviates from the usual Lesser Redpoll. This is a group where the names can be misleading, with the so called Common Redpoll being less common than the Lesser. Arctic is a rarity and if one turned up here it would be a real surprise. I was going to say coup, but since one of the sub-species is known as Coues's Redpoll I though better of it (or did I?).

One of the group discovered, last year, that the best way to see them close was to play their call as they fly over. Very often they will drop into the nearest tree top, have a quick look and then go on there way. This worked well today and I called down a group of six in the paddock.
They all seemed to be Lessers, but they are still nice little finches. Some years a few will visit the feeders in the garden and nine years ago a Mealy Redpoll (a race of Common Redpoll) visited the garden for a week. Unfortunately this was pre-digital photos and I didn't manage to get any slides. They are called Redpolls because to the red on the forehead, poll meaning head.

The common Redstart was still in the paddock and I did try to get some more photos of it. The weather didn't co-operate and it was dark and spitting with rain while I was watching it. Even when it was out of view it's mournful huweet call could be heard. It spent most of it's time around the centre of the paddock so it was audible from most areas. Redstart of course comes from the red tail, start being and old name for tail.

And of course there were a lot of Robins around, with many of them sitting on top of the little hawthorns proclaiming their winter territories.

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