Sunday, 16 December 2012

Showing well day part 1 - shooting snowballs

Yesterday was a write off birdwise as I was at a wedding in Taunton. Arriving back in London during the early hours, the lack of sleep didn't deter me from getting up before the first rays of sun, and heading up to Suffolk with John A and Graeme S. The only Hornemann's Redpoll I'd seen previously was one on Shetland in early October 2008, so having my usually cynical set of mates recommending this 'mainland twitch' wholeheartedly, it was difficult not to be enthusiastic. And what a morning it proved to be.

Arriving just prior to nine, there were a few lost souls walking around on the beach to the south of this pretty town. No sign of the bird, and to be honest this wasn't exactly what I'd expected - you don't go for a bird a week into its stay in mid-December and expect it to have done one. Not to worry though, as within half an hour or so, the hands were waving and this cute and robust snowball of a bird was found. Initially perched up by the yacht club, then munching away on poppy seeds. Totally mindblowing views in good company.

Hornemann's Redpolls are relatively straightforward to identify, much more so that exilipes Arctic and Mealy Redpolls.There's little overlap in biometrics, but the shots above show some obvious structural features such as the deep based bill, long tail and also a noticeably long primary projection. That rump was dazzling, and when puffed out, particularly unstreaked.

On the way back down the A12, James H, John T and Andy L were kind enough to call to let us know that a handful of these bad boys were munching away in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Ipswich: -

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