Thursday, 16 December 2010

Really Mealy?

Had a good days birdwatching yesterday at Rainton Meadows. Not much around in terms of numbers of birds but a few special bird were lurking scattered about the reserve. One of the long staying Bitterns was present though as usual at present elusive, it only showed when a Grey Heron pretty much forced it out of the reedbed.

However the star bird was without a doubt a superb Mealy Redpoll, I have wanted to see one of these for a while and have been unable to do so. I had brushed up on my ID skills for the separation of Lesser and Mealy Redpoll so it wasn't to difficult, though still a challenge! Thankfully a mate of mine was present who has quite a lot of years up on me on birds and we were able to pick out 1 perhaps 2 from the large mobile flock. The bird that we got prolonged views off was superb:
- Pretty much pure white wing-bar
- Long primary projection (noted my my mate only)
- White rump
- Very grey and cold looking overall.

I however made the fatal mistake of spending about a minute taking a photo rather than studying the bird and enjoying it. So I put my mobile away and instead watched the bird so that I could satisfy in my own mind it was infact a Mealy and not a Lesser. Thankfully there were plenty of Lesser's present around it as well as Siskins, the bird stood out well. When we lost it it was very easily picked out again. But I am certainly going to be going back to try and study them further. One thing I didn't really notice was the size of the bird, they tend to be larger than Lesser's but not an absolute key ID feature. I have attached some terrible images of the Mealy, it was the best I could manage I'm afraid!
(Mealy Redpoll - Rainton Meadows)

(Mealy Redpoll - Rainton Meadows)

(Mealy Redpoll - Rainton Meadows)

What a bird and lifer number 283.

Until next time, Foghorn out!


  1. Interesting looking bird Andrew. There doesn't look to be much streaking on the lower flanks, the wingbar is broad and clear white and the bird looks quite thick necked. If you also noted a obvious white rump, how did you exclude an exilipes Arctic Redpoll?

  2. Hi Mark,
    Both myself and Gary are fairly sure it was just a Mealy. Reasons:
    - Not that large in size compared to surrounding birds.
    - Long (large) bill
    - Quite grey backed
    - Not an obvious pale rump as what would be expected for typical Arctics.

    What I will do Mark is send all my photos through by email, they are all terrible but I will send them through anyway.

  3. Eh wot ?

    Hang on a minute, is there another Gary then ?

    I never said that !

    I sent you a text and asked "are you sure that bird was a mealy ?", and you said it definitely was one !