A flock of 40 odd Redpolls, consisting of Lesser, Common and a single Coue’s Arctic, had been faithful to a small garden on Hazlewood Common near Aldeburgh in Suffolk. We had planned our New Year celebrations around a trip to Dunwich, staying at a really nice pub and so this coincided perfectly for a visit to see the Coue’s Arctic Redpoll. I made two trips to see the birds, one on the 30th December 2017 and one on the 1st January 2018. The flock was interesting as it presented an opportunity to compare the three species at close quarters. Several of the Common (Mealy) Redpolls were very white and so to the untrained eye, could easily be passed off as the Arctic Redpoll. However, when the Coue’s was on view there was no real issue with its identification. My year list finally finished on 243
Arctic Redpoll – race exilipes (Coue’s) – Northern Eurasia – Hazlewood Common, Suffolk – Tony Davison© – Very frosty white, very white prominent wing bar, white rump and clean undertail coverts. Very light streaking on the flanks and buffy tones to the head. Tiny conical shaped bill appears to be “pushed in” to the face. Small scarlet red crown patch.
Common Redpoll – Acanthis flammea (Mealy Redpoll) – Hazelwood Common, Suffolk – Tony Davison © – Above 3 images – Several of the Mealy Redpolls that were present were very white, but showed several fine streaks on the undertail coverts. Slightly larger than Lesser Redpoll, less buff , especially around the head. White wing-bar and rump. Heavier streaks on the flanks than Arctic Redpoll.
Lesser Redpoll – Acanthis cabaret – Above 3 images – Hazelwood Common, Suffolk – Tony Davison© – note small size, larger conical shaped bill, buff wingbar, shiny red cap, males can show very pink breast and flanks in late winter. Generally more buff, but check out the white eyelids on the bird in the middle photo, I can’t ever remember seeing a Lesser Redpoll showing this feature before? Looks oriental!! wonder where it is from??