Mealy Redpolls in the garden

Today was another 'Ringing in the garden' day with Mark Breaks so with the nets set up by 8:30, we set about recording the visitors to my garden. The first tranche of birds were mainly re-trapped Blue and Great Tits but a few re-trap Bullfinches started to appear. After a couple of net rounds I was surprised at the number of 'new' Blue Tits we'd ringed as well as more Bullfinches - we ended up with thirteen different birds in the nets including a couple from two winter's ago which means that I've had at least 17 different birds in the garden this winter. A couple of female Reed Buntings took the seed but managed to avoid being trapped.

Goldfinches were in short supply so we decided to play a tape that included Redpoll calls. After about half an hour, whilst emptying the top net, a small flock of Redpolls appeared in the alders. They waited for us to disappear into the shed to process what we'd trapped, then obligingly filled the net along with six others! As we looked at the net from inside the shed, we could see that the right-hand most bird was 'interesting' and so Mark made straight for it and we knew we were looking at a Mealy Redpoll. I found a second bird a little further along that also looked a good contender and, by the measurements and cooler brown appearance, we confirmed it to be so.

As you can see from the images, both birds were more frosty in appearance than the warm brown tones of the accompanying Lesser Redpolls. Both had nice white rumps, one with a hint of pink. Wing length on both the birds was 76mm but the give-away was the weight at over 14g - all the Lesser Redpolls we caught were between 11 and 12g
First-winter male Mealy (Common) Redpoll
First-winter male Mealy and Lesser Redpolls
First-winter male Mealy and Lesser Redpolls

Bill Aspin going for a frame-filler!
Two First-winter male Mealy Redpolls 
Two First-winter male Mealy Redpolls
Bill Aspin and Tony Disley managed to make it across to my house for the release, the former wrestling with the draw of a large flock of gulls he'd passed on Rishton Reservoir. He thankfully made the correct decision and then proceeded to find a juvenile Iceland Gull there later (giving, and I quote, "blogtastic views") - which, once the nets had been taken down, we saw as well. A great day!
Juvenile Iceland Gull, Rishton Reservoir
Juvenile Iceland Gull, Rishton Reservoir
Juvenile Iceland Gull, Rishton Reservoir en route to Whinney Hill Tip
Ringing Totals for today
New
Retrap
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Blackbird
3
1
4
Long-tailed Tit
0
4
4
Blue Tit
14
12
26
Great Tit
6
3
9
Starling
0
1
1
Chaffinch
2
0
2
Greenfinch
2
0
2
Common Redpoll
2
0
2
Lesser Redpoll
7
1
8
Bullfinch
4
9
13
Total:
40
32
72

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