Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Thursday, 2 February 2012


Or when is a Redpoll, not a Redpoll.

When I was a lot younger, bird watching seemed so much easier.
I had a pocket sized book, called 'The Observer's Book of Birds'
Probably a lot of young birdwatchers started out with this wonderful little book.

It contained brief descriptions of 243 species, with 200 illustrated in colour. As for the rest, you had to make do with black and white pictures, and their description, or in some cases, just a few lines of text.

The Redpoll page was illustrated in black and white, and its proud heading proclaimed the bird as: 
Lesser Redpoll.

Part of the description read: 
'a very small, striated, brown Finch with a red forehead. It also has a soft rose-pink breast, a black chin, and a tinge of pink on the rump. The female is without the pink on the breast, but otherwise is very like the male in appearance. In the winter the plumage is less bright and has a greyer tone.'

And where could this lovely little bird be found?

I quote......'Among trees, and elsewhere in the country. It is more abundant in the north.'

Easy, wasn't it.

Today, the British list comprises of 596 birds. More than twice the number I grew up with.

I think it's fair to say that the extra 353 birds were always there. I just didn't know about them. Neither did a lot of other people.
Over the years various birds were split into different species, and the list steadily grew.

Back to the Redpoll, or Lesser Redpoll.

I use some software to record the birds that I've seen, when I go out, and the software lists various birds depending on how they are classified these days. 

For the Redpoll, I have;

1 ......................  Lesser Redpoll
2 ...................... Common Redpoll, which is split into 3 types.......Mealy Redpoll, Greenland Redpoll, and Icelandic Redpoll.
3 ........................Arctic Redpoll, which is also split into 2 types.....Coues's Redpoll, and Hornemanns Redpoll.

I think this is what's known as progress, and I'm certainly not going to go into the details of the diagnostics of separating the various 'makes and models' here.  Basically it's down to variations in the lightness of the markings, and in the case of the Arctic Redpoll, apparently look at the bum area, and under the tail feathers. Light, with no streaking, is a pretty good way to tell that that's yer boy..

Anyway, yesterday, myself and Trevor, paid a visit to Titchwell Marsh, nature reserve, where we are reliably informed, and I am also very confident, that we saw all three; Lesser, Common, and Arctic Redpolls.
Here's just a few of the pictures I took of these lovely little birds, (and they are by no means good pictures), while we were there.

I'll let you decide on the various 'makes' on offer here.

Enjoy the rest of your day.


  1. Keep it simple...They is Sparrows to me. Mind I thought all birds smaller than a blackbird were sparrows.

  2. it is rather an 'ignorance is bliss' thing, isn't it? :)

  3. Very interesting to read your description before viewing the images..
    I like them..
    a smile..

  4. Totally agree Adrian. At the rate they're going, we'll soon have more birds than America.

    Theresa, you're so right. I don't know why some folk have to make things difficult. :-)

    Thank you dandelion. Glad you enjoyed them. :-)

  5. Hi Keith...Here in "AMERICA"and my neck of the woods.. ; } I just call them Redpolls I find lesser amd common way to judgemental for the poor little things that can't speak up for themself...lol!
    I couldn't tell one from another anyway, your's looks like a Redpoll no surname!! ; }
    Love the beginning of your post an interesting read ..brought me back to my childhood.. : }
    Now if you want to see a Northern Yellow Shafted Flicker..lol..drop by today that's what is featured on my post for the last time today ...it will be changing probably about the time you hit the sack!! ; }

  6. If only this little bird realised all the effort that goes into knowing all about it, and the time you take to photograph it. It would become alot less allusive to spot. Lovely images, and nicely presented.

  7. Redpolls are so sweet! They are a favorite when they show up at the feeders during our winter months. How lucky to see all three. Here we are always on the lookout for a Hoary Redpoll mixed in with our 'common' redpolls.

  8. Have to agree with Adrian, lots of sparrow types round my gaff but can't claim to have seen this red headed fellow.

    Heard on the news that there is going to be a cull of around 200 canada geese somewhere in the lake district. The rangers are going to shoot them, said they are too numerous and are damaging the environment.

  9. Ahhh....such simple explanations, but seriously, birding is a rather complicated thing nowadays. How many sparrows and finches are out there?:) And that's just to name of few:)

  10. Aha!, Now I think I know why I think I was confused, I think!!...lol.

    Great post Keith, a clear explanation always helps!

    It was a great day out yesterday, if a little cold and windy! And you got some decent photos, mine are rubbish!!...[;o)

  11. Thanks Grace.
    I'll pop over for a look at your Flicker later lol

    Thanks Shaun. Fascinating subjects birds. :-)

    Thank you Karen. Along with Siskins, I think these really brighten up our winters.

    Debbie, some of these little birds can be a nightmare to ID.
    Bad news about the Canada Geese. I think a cull of the people damaging the environment would be more productive though.

    Thanks Rohrerbot. Yea, birding is complicated. It seems to get more complicated every year lol

    Cheers Trevor. Yea, considering the sunshine, I didn't get many keepers lol

  12. Th Redpoll is a beautiful bird, and lovely way of showing it.

  13. trust you enjoyed Titch - I'll get there when warmer :D

  14. Yes, for a long time I thought a Redpoll was a Redpoll and then it suddenly got difficult... not really for me though as for some inexplicable reason I never see them... any of them!!

  15. Hi Keith,
    It`s all very confusing isn`t it?! You have definitely got Lessers there and a fairly pale one which looks like a Mealy (Common) to me, but could be wrong!
    All these splits are good for building your list without having to do any birding! ;)
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  16. We have a similar problem with Yellow Rump warblers...I get totally confused..I just call them all yellow rumps!!
    The last photo really shows this beautiful off!!

  17. Sweet little guys .. love how they pick away sideways.

  18. While it's nice to know the identification, sometimes it's enough just to see them or, as in my case, to see your photos of them. I think these are beautiful.

  19. Whatever the pedigree, it is a beautiful little bird.

  20. Pete, we had a great time. It never disappoints. Worth the cold to see the Redpolls, and Marsh Harriers.

    Thanks Jan. I don't see these very often either. Didn't see any last year.

    Cheers Debbie. This hobby can be hard enough at times, without trying to remember all the sub species. lol

    John, it certainly is confusing at times. I do wonder sometimes just how many birds I have seen in my life. Maybe more than I think, with all the splits lol

    Sondra, that's usually how I do it. I leave the intricate details of deciding which make and model, to the grown up birders lol

    Thanks Reena. They are very acrobatic, and work hard to get their food. Lovely to watch them.

    Thanks Linda. Yea, I agree. Sometimes trying to seek too much information can take the fun from just 'watching' them.

    Gillian, spot on!
    A 'Redpoll' suits me fine; but I guess to some other birders, that wouldn't put me amongst their little group. lol

  21. Birding and it's traps ;-)
    I could never be a Scientist ;-)

    Love the last photo of this active little fellow!

  22. Very descriptive Keith along with great photo's nice work

  23. Thanks Nicole. Yea, it can be a tough pastime at times lol

    Thanks Bob. :-)

  24. That's a lot of redpolls. I'm glad you can tell them apart; I'm sure I'd be confused. They're pretty little things, though.

  25. Thanks JoLynne. Yea, the various races are very difficult to tell apart, just by looking at them in a tree. I'm happy to call them all 'Redpolls' lol

  26. just great my friend. Well done.

  27. Stupéfiant, le Web. Nous découvrons toujours. Ici, cela commence par la première image de ce routard ailé, et puis ce reportage sur le Redpoll.
    C'est l'ami Bob Bushell qui m'a fait atterrir chez toi, pour mon plus grand bonheur.


  28. Bengts, thank you for stopping by, and your comment.

    Roger, je vous remercie pour votre commentaire.

  29. I always keep it simple, LBJ, tick, move on (I jest of course)! Although I reckon I've ignored a few good birds under the LBJ tag in the past.

  30. Yea, I like it simple lol
    It would be so much easier if they all wore name badges ;-)