14th Jan. I made a return to Rainton Meadows today. This time with Cain (Holywell Birding) without whom I would not have got there.:-) We picked up Andrew (Foghorn) on the way. The chief targets of the day were these awkward Arctic Redpolls.
Not to be rushed we made for the Wear where we had a fine sighting of male Scaup, although some of the other targets were missing today. Then it was off to Rainton Meadows and up that ‘flippin’ hill again. I was warm when I set off today in these almost tropical temperatures of late, and warmer still when I reached the top of the hill. That warmth wasn’t to last as we stood in a chill wind. It was very quiet with few birders compared to the weekend and not many more birds. No sign of Arctic Redpolls amongst a small flock of Lesser and Mealy Redpolls. We went down the hill without having reached our target. However time was filled nicely with other species and lunch. I’ll let others tell you of events if they wish. The ponds have thawed out in the main.
Eventually it was back up the hill and such is my increasing fitness I almost trotted up. I’m sure that this will be confirmed! I knew there was some action as the few birders already there were watching intently. However it took Andrew to tell them that there was an Arctic Redpoll alongside a Mealy Redpoll in the bush in front of us. Well he has had some practice of late! Practice we were all grateful of if I’m honest, as these birds are causing some problems and I don’t mind admitting had me struggling. However I did note very quickly the very small bill, white rump and white ground colouring, although it was not a classic Arctic Redpoll. The bird in question perched for some time giving all round views. I had a short sighting of another Arctic Redpoll as it came to the feeder briefly. In fact I was thinking I saw another, but was told it was a very light Mealy Redpoll so I have some way to go before I can claim any expertise on Redpoll identification.
Great to have three species of Redpoll in a session of birding. I’ve been hoping for Arctic Redpoll since I watched for it amongst the Mealy Redpoll at Aberlady about five years ago. My first lifer of 2011! Thanks go to both Andrew and Cain.:-) I'll be back, Redpolls or no Redpolls, as I have really liked the area since my first visit some time ago.