The redpoll problem

In the 45 years or so in which I have had an interest in birds there have been some changes: One of these is the naming of birds. I will always call a sand martin a sand martin and not a bank swallow. A common guillemot to me is never going to be a common murre, and so on. However there’s one bird that’s always bothered me: redpoll.

I don’t see them very often but have been confused in recent years and only recently got it clear in my own mind! One issue that prompted me to check the facts was that my bird listing app has common redpoll and lesser redpoll as two separate listings, whereas my Collins field guide has just common redpoll. I actually had both common and lesser as separate species on my life list, but I’ve now changed the lesser redpoll sightings to be common redpoll, for reasons which I will try to clarify for you….

Common redpoll, confusingly also known as mealy redpoll, with the latin name carduelis flammea, refers to birds from Fenno-Scandia, whereas the birds found in central Europe, more southern parts of Scandinavia and in the UK are the sub-species cabaret, known as lesser redpoll.

And then there are Arctic redpolls which are a separate species, but which I have never seen!

Confused? I was! And so that’s why I have made all my extant redpoll sightings into common redpoll, even though the UK sub-species is lesser redpoll: I don’t want to separate out the sub-species as separate species, and I’m not a good enough birder to tell them apart anyway. So there we are!

No wildlife sightings today, apart from some raptors (red kites, buzzard, kestrel) from the car, but when I went out into the back garden this evening to look at the new moon I did see “our” hedgehog enjoying a drink from the pond before ambling off.

Brenda writes: “Today was a good day for flowers because I was mostly on foot. From the car I saw ribbed melilot and spotted dead-nettle. I was briefly at Wighton where a team were fitting new bell ropes, and on the grass verge I saw my first selfheal of the year.


Back in Wells there was dwarf mallow in the churchyard.

dwarf mallow

In the moth trap there were three new macro moths, light arches, flame (another of the ‘twig moths’) and the gorgeous lychnis with its geometric patterns.

light arches

James has been sent photos of three micros and I await his thoughts. My first buff ermine of the year gave me the slip and is somewhere in the kitchen!”

New species for June 21st:
Moths: light arches, flame, lychnis, buff ermine
Flowers: ribbed melilot, spotted dead-nettle, selfheal, dwarf mallow

Birds = 203
Moths = 127
Wildflowers = 214