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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Redpolls, Bramblings, & Siskins - Garden Update on 22nd February, 2011

This continues to be a great winter for birds in our garden.

The Lesser Redpoll first seen on 28th December last year has become a 'several times daily' occurrence, with up to six birds being seen. We have at least four juveniles (barely discernible red on the head), and at least four adults visiting us. This for us is very special as the only other time that we have seen Redpoll in our garden was in April, 2009 - naively identified as Common Redpoll by me at the time. I wonder how much longer they will hang around for? I find it difficult to nail a good image of these as they tend to fly straight in to the feeder, and then straight out again. Most of the time I just turn round from my desk and they are there!

Lesser Redpoll

A small test of your birding knowledge - in the monochrome image below, what species of bird do you see?

what species?

On 6th February, we had our first Siskin for almost two years. Since then, up to four have been seen, again on a 'several times a day' basis. I think that we have only had one female, but there have been at least two juvenile males, and one adult male. These are a real delight.

Siskin (juvenile male)

Siskin (male)

The Brambling sighting on 30th November, 2010, has also resulted in 'several times a day' sightings since, with up to four birds being seen. This, again, is really exciting for us as this is the first time we have seen Brambling for about twenty years. Currently, however, we are only seeing male birds. I find it interesting to observe the different levels of transition into breeding plumage, as shown in the images below.

23/02/2011 - Since publishing this yesterday, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm making a fool of myself on the male/female Brambling issue. One of my books led me to believe that the paler headed birds shown below are winter males (it shows and states females as having a very narrow orange bar on the shoulder, compared to the males). However, having just looked at the Collins guide, I'm beginning to think that these might be females. I still consider myself a birding beginner, and help and guidance on this matter (and any other glaring errors!) would be appreciated!

Brambling (male)

OK - so the answer to what species? Well, the clue was in the surrounding images. The bird on the left was a Lesser Redpoll, and the bird on the right a Siskin. It was not until I looked at the (rubbish) image below that it dawned on me just how similar, from the back view, a Redpoll and Siskin were in shape, size, and markings (if you ignore the colour).

Lesser Redpoll and Siskin

Another very welcome visitor, on 16th February, was this male Reed Bunting - a garden 'year tick'. Unfortunately the bird only made the one brief visit (to the best of my knowledge) - a shame, because Reed Bunting is also an extremely rare visitor to our garden, with the previous observation (before this winter) being about twenty years ago.

Reed Bunting (male)

With all the excitement generated by our 'rarities', it is easy to forget the more commonplace birds in our garden that give us delight. Below are a couple that I snapped last week.

Blue Tit


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