I spent this morning with the Stanford Ringing Group, which is currently enjoying a record year, having ringed more than 5000 birds since January! Ringing totals for most (not all) species have exceeded those of previous years making Stanford one of the top inland ringing sites in the UK. Among today’s list of trapped species were Redwing, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. During an apparent influx of migrants, double figures of the latter were trapped, each individual being 3-4 grams below the expected weight, indicating that they had burned off some of their fat reserves through migration. Of further interest, however, was the half a dozen Lesser Redpolls trapped, one of which was strikingly different to the others. This individual, a first-winter, had the red poll replaced by a gold one and this is the first time I have encountered a redpoll exhibiting this exceptional crown colour.
It is not without precedent, however, as two among 118 Lesser Redpolls trapped and photographed by Horsham Ringers during the first week of this month also showed this crown colour, as did an apparent Mealy Redpoll photographed in northern England in March 2010. For comparison, here is a ‘normal’ first-winter Lesser Redpoll.
It would be good to hear from anyone who can shed any light on what these ‘Goldpolls’ are or where they come from!