Saturday 12 March 2016

Winter Birds of Lumsden

I arrived in Lumsden this morning 10 minutes before official sunrise, after sleeping less than 1km from the towns outer limit. My main goal was to see the elusive Fieldfare that had been here for over a month! I knew it would be a hard bird to get based on the experiences of others.

As expected there were a lot of birds in town. Mostly redpolls, with at least 80 at one of the local feeders. They gave some easy entertainment while waiting for the Fieldfare to show its face.

There are two sub-species of Common Redpoll. The more Southern (and more expected) flammea, and the more Northern rostrata sub-species (which breeds on Baffin Island & Greenland). Jean Irons has a good summary of these sub-species here.

This flammea Common Redpoll demonstrates the pink breast and forehead, although it is a little more exuberant than the average. 

Compare that pink colour with the blood-red forehead of this rostrata Common Redpoll:

The difference in forehead colour isn't the only unique thing about this sub-species. It is notably larger, and has a darker complexion over much of its body. To me, it seems like the underlying colour is more brown versus the white of the flammea redpolls.

True to form, the Fieldfare was extremely wary and only showed its face for a total of 2 minutes despite an all out 6+ hour manhunt.

Check out this video of a River Otter skating across a frozen bay: