Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Up to the Holbolls....

Holbolls not illustrated...
Well, I see Alan Tilmouth and Nigel Foggo have put my Mealy Redpolls to shame with a very nice Coues's Arctic Redpoll at Widdrington Tip.

If you are one of those birders poo-pooing the 'Coues's' bit as a new fangled taxonomistic load of rubbish, then look back to my 1938 edition of 'The Handbook' and there we find, not only Coues's, but Lesser, Mealy ( none of this 'Common' nonsense), Greenland, Hornemann's and Holbolls Redpoll. 


Wait a minute, Holbolls? What on earth is Holbolls? In 1938 it is an 'uncertain form' and is retained in brackets as a form of Mealy Redpoll from farther north and east in Scandinavia, Russia and Siberia. Its good to know that one of this form was recorded on Holy Island in November 1923...

Rarer still, at Widdrington Tip this week, have been......some birders. I bet if you had walked into Cresswell hide last weekend and mentioned the tip, more birders would have heard of Holbolls Redpoll before one recognised where this site was.

Some years back myself, Nigel and JWR all used to live at Stobswood, just opposite the old brickworks next to this tip site. We used to see Glaucous Gulls and Hoodies each winter here when the site was still operational, and nearby in the woods wildlife abounded with breeding Willow Tit, Tree Pipit and even Wood Warbler. Woodcocks rode through the village at dusk on summers evenings and all five owl species could be seen annually. Mealy Redpolls were annual too, attracted in by the birch trees and by the calls of captive, aviary bred, Mealies kept by one resident for showing purposes.Some good plants are to be found too in this fragment of ancient woodland with Broad leaved Helleborine, Musk Thistle etc.

Only Nigel is a regular there these days.

It just goes to show that if you use some imagination and do your research there will be little places worth checking out not too far from the well beaten birders track. You don't have to sit in a hide all day just because everyone else does...

5 comments:

Matt Burgess said...

Too true Stewart, I've been birding Broom Gps for the last 8 years. Every now and then we have a flurry of decent bird activity and the place becomes 'busy'. I met a birder from London there once who seemed under whelmed by the place, saying "is this it?". The man was obviously expecting a whirling vortex of rarities and a state of the art visitors centre. What he got was an area little bigger than a few football pitches and a few signs saying "keep out".

Northumbrian Birding said...

Well said that man !!! is this the start of the revolution (or was it resolution)
Brian

Warren Baker said...

Here Here!! Get out and find something :-)

abbey meadows said...

Don't forget the 23 species of butterfly! I'll be bashing the area long after the birders have gone, it comes into its own in the spring, not so much for birds but plenty to look out for.

Stewart said...

Loads of places up here to look for redpolls. for a start, all of the reclaimed pit heaps from Wallsend to Shilbottle are covered in birch and alder. Cramlington has lots of birch plantations roundabout, then theres DBCP and all of the smaller reserves, Felton Lane, Caistron, Simonside, Branton etc the list goes on.

Nige - Campberwell Beaut, Convolvulous Hawk, Lunar Hornet Clearwing, Clouded Yellow, Holly Blue, Lesser Butterfly Orchid, Red backed Shrike ...all in the Stobby area...