Sunday, November 21, 2010

He's big, bright and northern.....

No not me....I'm not that bright, but he is -

No one knows better than me, how tricky northern Bullfinches are to identify in the field, without call, but just try one, in the scope, 20yards away with a British Bullfinch in the same view for comparison. There is no comparison.

I have been lucky enough to have handled three pyrrhula Bullfinches as a ringer, and have seen and heard another couple. They are great birds, and make our own resident bullies seem dowdy. Even females are bright and bushy, a bit like waxwings, but I have struggled to nail them in the field without that distinctive call note. [Check out Richard Dunns blog on the right he has some samples]

Today myself and JWR encountered a few small parties in the Long Walk at Howick then found three birds on an ornamental rowan tree near the pond. There was a male and female pileata  next to the brightest male Northern you could find. Side by side he was maybe 10% bigger on bulk, but the plumage was most catching. The wing bar on the big lad was very broad and white with a hint of grey on the inner feathers while the other birds had dull off white dirty narrower curved bars. The pink on the northern was almost carmine, getting redder down towards the belly, the white offsetting this beautifully. Even the mantle was a clean silver looking tone, much brighter than his British mates.

He nipped off full rowan berries just like a waxwing, no problem.

All that was missing was the call. A few fine peeps but none of the nasal toots that identify these birds at range, so I cant see it getting accepted as such.

Never mind, its in my book and I'm well pleased with it.

Why no photos from either me or John? We didnt take the cameras as we were fully scoped doing the WeBS count from Boulmer to Howick with heavy showers it just didnt seem often have I said that!


Emma Anderson said...

This is very interesting, Stewart. I would probably have said: "Oh! There's a bullfinch" without realising the difference. I'm glad there's an expert on the job to sort these out for me! Another lovely illustration too.

abbey meadows said...

I still have the photos of that trapped and ringed Bully Stew but without a scanner it is stuck in the bottom drawer. Nice illustration.