For whom the poll swells

Redpolls can be troublesome - troublesome, that is, if you start trying to identify every single individual that you come across. The problem is that they vary so much. At its simplest, we have three species: Lesser (Carduelis cabaret), Mealy or Common (Carduelis flammea) and Arctic (Carduelis hornemanni), although different authorities split these still further, while others lump them. It's confusing to say the least. Even when you have them in the hand it is not always a straightforward matter of clinching the identification, but sometimes it is. Take these two Mealies (Commons) that were trapped at Dungeness in early November, along with several accompanying Lessers. They were clearly larger, were heavier and the colouration was at once different. The top two images are of the same bird, whereas the bottom picture is of the second individual.

I came across these images whilst having a look through the several hundred pictures that I took during my recent stay at Dungeness. I thought that one or two of you out there might be interested in them - highly instructive at best, blog filler at worst...


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