Wednesday, 26 October 2011

26th October 2011 Barra, Outer Hebrides S3 Overcast

Endeavour B&B was welcoming, spotlessly clean, good-value year round accommodation very close to both the ferry terminal and woods at Castlebay. John had the latest news on the ongoing search for the Ovenbird, cooked fortifying 'birders' breakfasts' (he's quite happy to cater for late breakfasts to allow for early morning forays into the field). Jill went the extra mile in providing local knowledge and suggesting birding and other sites of interest. For reservations call 01871 810757 or 07855 457283.

Whooper Swan 9
Merganser 1
Buzzard 1
Rock Dove 1
Stonechat 2
Robin c.10
Blackbird c.15
Fieldfare 20
Icelandic Redwing 4
Hebridean Song Thrush c.10
Hebridean Wren c.10
Blackcap 5
Chiffchaff 2
Wood Warbler 1 ex.
Yellow-browed Warbler 1 ex.
Greenfinch 2
Brambling 4
Icelandic Redpoll 12
Goldfinch 3
Hooded Crow 4

Castlebay, Barra

Castlebay Woods

Wood Warbler at Castlebay Woods, Barra 
Always a very welcome species to encounter, albeit not the (American) Wood Warbler we were hoping to see on this occasion!

Icelandic Redwing T.n. coburni
Its long wings, dark upperparts, heavily marked and buff-washed underparts are all traits of this form.

 Robin at Castlebay Woods

 Male Blackbird at Castlebay Woods

Song Thrush at Castlebay Woods

Hebridean Wren T.t. hebridensis at Castlebay Woods

 Male Blackcap at Castlebay Woods

 Icelandic Redpoll Carduelis flammea islandica at Castlebay Woods
Being smaller and clearly much paler and smaller-billed than Autumn Greenland Redpolls C.f. rostrata that we have encountered on Shetland this Redpoll did share the heavily marked, triple-striped flank streaking on a whitish background   associated with 'North-western' Redpolls C.f. rostrata/islandica and its 'pasty' face and streaked undertail-coverts are also consistent with Icelandic Redpoll C.f. islandica. Reassuringly it also appears a very close match to birds portrayed in Plates 23 & 24 in Pennington & Maher 2005 BW Vol.18 No.2.

 Icelandic Redpoll Carduelis flammea islandica at Endeavor B&B, Castlebay
Albeit a darker and browner individual than that above this bird also has very boldly marked triple-striped dark flank streaking. It again lacked the size and bulk we associate with Greenland Redpolls C.f. rostrata so Icelandic Redpoll C.f. islandica would seem a more-likely fit. 

 Icelandic Redpoll Carduelis flammea islandica at Endeavor B&B, Castlebay
An eye-catchingly white-bodied individual that whilst having a far more extensive area of upper-breast-side streaking again shows triple-striped flank streaking on a whitish background consistent with this form.  

 First-winter Redpolls sp. at Endeavor B&B, Castlebay
The lack of a red poll and only vestiges of a black bib render these two individuals as first-winters. Whilst associating with the Icelandic Redpolls above the flank markings are rather messy so can Mealy Redpoll C.f. flammea be safely eliminated?

 Presumed Icelandic Redpoll C.f. islandica at Endeavor B&B, Castlebay
In flight this individual appeared to have an extensive white rump although on close examination there were some restricted short grey streaks discernable. It also had extensive white tibia-feathering. Whilst it doesn't show the typical triple-striped flank streaking, its flank-streaking is set upon a white ground colour (typically brown in Mealy). Icelandic Redpoll is considered quite similar to Coue's Arctic Redpoll C.h. exilipes, and some individuals may not be separable (Riddington & Votier 1997 BW Vol. 10 No. 4).    

 First-winter Redpolls sp. at Endeavor B&B, Castlebay
Based on its diffuse flank-streaking set upon a brown ground colour it's tempting to assign this individual a Mealy Redpoll C.f. flammea but its near lack of a black bib and poorly developed red poll indicate it is another first-winter bird. Hence, can first-winter Icelandic Redpolls appear more Mealy-like in appearance at this age? To my mind the images convey the bulk and the shape of this individual that I consider reminiscent of a Greenland Redpoll C.f. rostrata.

 Presumed Icelandic Redpoll C.f. islandica at Endeavor B&B, Castlebay

 First-winter Redpoll sp. at Endeavor B&B, Castlebay
Another first-winter with messy flank-streaking on a brownish background but with extensive fluffy-white trousers! Note also the well-defined arrowhead dark marks on the undertail-coverts.