Tony Rayner, in Cholsey, just reported to me that they have had a flock of Common Redpoll in their garden for the last 16 days and it is growing in numbers each week. Currently they have 9 birds at any one time on the seed feeders outside their kitchen. In addition Tony thinks that he might also have seen 1 Mealy Redpoll, a very unusual species usually found in northern, Arctic regions.
This comes at the same time that the warden of Withymead Nature Reserve, in Goring/South Stoke has reported netting 25 Common Redpoll and possibly 2 Mealy Redpoll in with them. I too have had a more modest influx of 4 Redpoll regularly coming to the Niger Seed feeders in my garden of the last week or more and a single male Brambling passed through on one day last week.
These unusual winter visitors have undoubtably been forced to seek shelter here by the unusually long, hard winter in Scandinavia and Northern Europe this year. The easterly winds, which we all felt over the last 2 months and that brought snow to many regions, probably helped these birds to find our shores.
Just another reason, if we needed one, to make sure that our bird feeders are topped up and primed with a good variety of bird foods. I have noticed that Redpolls are very similar to Gold Finches in their fondness for the small, black Niger Seeds … whilst the Chaffinches, Green Finches, Tits, Robins and Blackcap prefer to eat Sunflower Hearts 🙂