Brilliant, blue skies meant today felt more like early spring and less like midwinter. Here’s the summary of birds seen during the day…

The Reedbed Trail was definitely one of the reserve ‘hotspots’ today and if you were lucky, there were five great birds to see over and above the supporting cast of wildfowl and reed buntings.

It was here that most visitors saw our semi-resident peregrine – left leg, red-ring PAA, raised on Wakefield Cathedral – or ‘Red’ for short.

On the marsh around the Wath Ings hide, things were pretty busy too. Three goldeneye could be found here with a further two on the Mere and, early on, eight little egret left the roost to range across the valley.

But it was probably the area around the Wildlife Ponds that got most attention today and with good reason. Here a flock of around twenty lesser redpolls could be seen feeding at the tops of the birch trees. With them was one bird that stood out as being very different, a mealy or common redpoll.

Lesser redpoll in the birches this afternoon

In fact, since Wednesday this flock of redpolls have been seen around the Trans Pennine Trail or at Old Moor. Talking to Karen, one of our wardens, they seem to favour Old Moor in the mornings and head towards the TPT later in the day.

Why all the fuss? Well, most of the redpolls that we see at Old Moor are ‘lessers’. These are crackin’ little finches, small with a red forehead and a (mainly) brown body. ‘Mealies’ are very different looking and are indeed a separate species. Among other things, they appear much paler, more of a ‘white bird’ with ‘brown markings’.

The trouble is, redpolls tend to be flighty and to be seen high up at the tops of trees and – even worse – in silhouette against a bright sky. All of which is why the flock of redpolls at Old Moor is very pleasing. - Trust me, it’s a lot easier picking out one ‘different’ bird in a small group, than trying to identify a single redpoll on its own.

At this point, I’d love to finish with a photo of the said mealy redpoll… Er-hmm. Best I could manage today was an out of focus pale blob with a beautifully sharp branch in front of it!

That means it’s over to you. Find and photograph the bird and I’ll put it in pride of place on my next blog with full credit of course! (Help with the ID can be found here – Lesser Redpoll and Common (or Mealy) Redpoll)

Just ask in the Visitor Centre for the email address or post it via our Twitter feed or Facebook Page.

Until next time.

Anonymous