The first thing to say is that this isn’t easy and I’m not actually totally sure what your birds are. There are some obvious pro-Mealy features such as extensive greyish-white in the rump and (on some) a greyish face/neck ‘shawl’. Furthermore, I can’t see any birds showing the giveaway Lesser Redpoll undertail coverts pattern of many short fine streaks overlain by a rich buff wash.
So, your birds could be Mealies but, like Roger, I can see brown hues in the face and flanks of some. Given that this hasn’t been a good winter for Mealies (there are hardly any in Norfolk) whereas it has been a bumper, record-breaking winter for Lessers, I’d be hesitant to log a decent-sized flock of Mealies, particularly in the SW where the subspecies is rare.
I’m sorry I can’t be any more precise – redpolls are devilish things!
All the best.
Thanks again to everyone who commented on these birds, thanks to Andy for allowing me to publish the above e-mail, and particular thanks to Chris Townend, who endured all kinds of dreadful weather to photograph and sound-record these birds. I hope it didn't feel like a fruitless exercise Chris!
Great stuff Matt. This is exactly why I love blogs. Just occasionally there's a real gem of a post, or set of posts (as in this case) that makes me want to 'cut it out and keep' kind of thing! Thanks so much for following up on those fascinating Redpolls and posting the results here. Brilliant.ReplyDelete
PS. I'm with you on the lumping approach. 100%!
Many thanks Gav. MattReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing all the posts and the correspondence Matt, always very educational. They are indeed a very tricky taxon to sort out especially at this time of year with varying states if wear and tear - like you I say lump them! I don’t remember seeing any of the Topsham redpolls with buffy undertail coverts and most had pretty much pure white wing bars. The accepted mealy that you found there in some shots taken by Carole Leigh’s was pretty close to Coues’s (but bigger billed)! There were still mixed opinions on that cracking looking bird.ReplyDelete
Thank you Mike - yep I'm personally not sure the identification of that bird is safe if none of these birds can be identified with certainty. Equally it seems wrong to assume that Mealy Redpoll doesn't turn up from time to time in the southwest. Going to spend some time on gulls now - much more straight-forward! All the best. MattReplyDelete