An Interesting Redpoll at Stanford Reservoir

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.

'Goldpoll': first-winter Lesser Redpoll with gold crown patch, Stanford Reservoir, 22 Oct 2011 (Mike Alibone)

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.

First-winter Lesser Redpoll, Stanford Reservoir, 22 Oct 2011 (Mike Alibone)

It would be good to hear from anyone who can shed any light on what these ‘Goldpolls’ are or where they come from!

7 thoughts on “An Interesting Redpoll at Stanford Reservoir

      1. Yes, is a bit of a conundrum! Lots of Redpolls moving through Gib Point this weekend with other finches larks and pipits, although otherwise quiet. Interesting the weight loss shown by yours. Just how far do they travel inland after hopping over the North Sea.

        Must say I never encountered any Goldpolls during my ringing days in the mid to late eighties, so I wonder if it is a recent phenomenon. Unfortunately I suspect any references to it will be buried in journals that have yet to make it online!

  1. Hi, just found this bit about your gold polls. A bit of a while ago I know, but I thought I’d share this. I have kept and bred most of our little finches in captivity for years and without certain trace elements that promote the red colouration Redpolls and Linnets as two examples will have the gold colour instead of the cherry red. We use an ingredient when the birds are moulting called carophyl red in diluted with water form or mixed with cod liver oil in their seed mixes to artificially produce the red pigment for captive birds. This example you show obviously had a slightly poor diet when moulting

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