Thursday 18 February 2021

Another reply

This one from Paul French, chairman of the BBRC and a man with much more experience of Redpolls than me, both on the east coast and on Scottish islands:

Hi Matt

No worries, although looking at pics of these is no substitute for watching them in the field. I can't rule out a mixed flock, but the grey ear coverts, white wingbar, pale sides to the nape and whitish base colour to the rump make me happy at least the bird in pic 77 is probably Common. However, the dark surround to the ear coverts is limited or lacking in all of them, and the left bird in pics 65 and 74 looks browner toned with a darker rump. Tricky, as i don't think these would get identified as Lessers on Shetland, but I'm not sure they are acceptable as Common in the SW. Be interested to hear what Andy thinks.


Thank you Paul.


  1. You've opened up a real cam of worms there but in a good way. What a complex species the Redpolls are

  2. Hi Spencer - thank you for your comment. Yep, they're certainly tricky but the flock contains some standard-looking Lessers so the likelihood is they're all just Lessers. Ideally what's needed is a 'side-by-side'comparison of Lesser vs an obviously bigger Common. It's certainly worth scrutinising any flock you find. All the best. Matt