Friday, 14 April 2017

14th April 2017 Unst SE2

A virtually calm morning but with persistent heavy showers. Hamar produced a pair of Shelduck that have been present for a few days but the first time I've seen them. On the approach to the airport a flock of 6 Redpolls were seen in flight dropping out of sight behind some sheep pens. One showed what appeared to be a large white rump in flight and subsequent views around the pens only added to my suspicions as to its identity. I obtained a few images but unfortunately the flock proved flighty and soon flew off towards the airport where I couldn't relocate them. After the rain had stopped Skaw produced a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest. A subsequent search for the Redpolls drew a blank.

Mealy Redpoll at Baltasound Airport
Showing its long pointed bill and rounded forehead to good effect

Mealy (left) and presumed Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Baltasound
Click the above image to enlarge. The difference in both bill size and shape appears striking. A more pronounced supercilium. Paler ground-colour to its upperparts that are less heavily streaked. Paler hind-neck/nape virtually concolorous with mantle. The fluffy white wrap-around flanks are more sparsely and finely streaked. The broad dark streaking to the undertail-coverts of the Mealy are readily visible.

presumed Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Baltasound
Steep-forehead appearing straight not rounded. Pale face accentuating small-eyed appearance.

presumed Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Baltasound
Deep-based triangular bill. Ear-coverts concolorous with the rest of its rear-head. Feathers of its underparts forming a virtually perfect sphere when viewed from any angle!

presumed Coue's Arctic Redpoll at Baltasound
Wet from feeding on the ground enhances the shaggy appearance of its belly.