15 November 2014

Lesser can be more

I'm really enjoying the office patch at the moment, both for its regular finds and the occasional bonus birds it throws up.

I get to cover this small patch pretty well because rain or shine I have to be at the office a couple of times a week - and being pretty remote there's not much else to do at lunchtime but take a walk around the nearby countryside.

First up is normally the cormorant count - four this week but as high as 11 a couple of weeks back.

Second is a scan of the lake: at the moment that normally turns up a combination of either greylag and / or canada geese, mallards, 1-3 little grebe, the occasional great crested grebe, a couple of lurking moorhens, a grey heron and, somewhere about, a kingfisher.

And then it's on to the fields and hedgerows where most of the excitement has been over the last few weeks.

Over the course of two short walks this week (Monday and Wednesday) I was able to find birds including: all three common raptors (kestrel, buzzard and sparrowhawk); a decent-sized flock of yellowhammers; a regular marsh tit; treecreeper; nutchatch; goldcrest; bullfinch; plenty of long-tailed and blue tits; skylarks dotted about the place; both common woodpeckers; goldfinch and chaffinch - plus Wednesday's star bird, the lesser redpoll.

Approximately 18 lesser redpolls in fact, clustered high in a skeletal oak tree and quietly chirruping away (not a distinctive sound - 'a plainsong goldfinch' was the phrase which occurred to me at the time). 

Having not seen a redpoll for quite some time, let alone this many in one place, it took me a moment or two to identify them. But a quick scan of streaky beige back and underparts, red / darkening patches around the throat and the short forked tail soon confirmed these LBJs as lesser redpoll - an office patch first and a welcome find on any autumnal birding walk.

Bird of the week: Lesser redpoll (Carduelis cabaret), a much more common bird in the UK than its paler winter-visiting cousin the common (or mealy) redpoll (I know, bird names seem designed to confuse at times) - but still not all that regular a find in these parts. 

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