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:
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.