Thursday, October 25, 2018

Iceland Jobs

We were pretty keen to get out ringing this week but a steady wind of 15-20 mph made it impossible for days on end.  The usual check on late Wednesday afternoon suggested those pesky isobars might just pull apart for Thursday morning, so I arranged to meet Andy up at Okenclough for a ringing session. 

"Maybe" weather

Back home there was a hint of (unforecasted) drizzle at the off. As I drove up to Oakenclough, 600ft above sea level, the drizzle intensified with a wind from the North West at about 8-10mph. At first “light” there was 100% low cloud with light but spasmodic drizzle. 

But we stuck to the task in hand, the drizzle eased as the light improved slowly and we packed in about 11 am. During the whole time there was very little visible migration but in the circumstances we managed a reasonable catch, mainly Redwings. 

The birds caught tell the story of the morning: 17 Redwing, 4 Coal Tit, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Great Tit. 

In the heavy cloud conditions with very low visibility the visible migration of thrushes was virtually zero. We had maximum counts of 180 Redwing and 40 Fieldfare, mostly arriving from unseen directions as they dropped through the cloud cover.  Otherwise, the count of small birds was negligible. 

The field sheet shows how at least three of this morning’s Redwings were of the Icelandic sub-species, Turdus iliacus coburni, rather than the nominate European race Turdus iliacus. 

Spot the Iceland Jobs 

Birds of the Icelandic subspecies are marginally larger and darker than nominate birds from Europe but only around 10-15% of Icelandic birds have longer wing lengths, so relatively few are separable on size. 

But this morning it was noticeable how at least 50% of Redwing wing lengths were in the 120’s rather than the mid to late teens of recent ringing sessions. The three biggest came in at wing lengths of 129 mm, 127 mm and 124 mm with corresponding respective weights of 76.5 gms, 68.5 gms and 68.9 gms. Compare these three monsters with three of the smallest – 113 mm with 56.7 gms, 117 mm with 58.9 gms, and 117 mm with 61 gms. 

Icelandic Redwing 

European Redwing 

We’ll be trying again soon so let’s hope for a few windless days and more light for more photos.

Linking today to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni's Birding.


eileeninmd said...

Hello, both Redwings are beautiful. The wind and drizzle would have kept me home, glad you got out and were able to record some of the birds. Wonderful photos. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day, have a happy weekend too.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good morning Phil: Apart from wing length it appears from your pictures that there is a marked colour difference between the two races. Is this a readily identifiable character in the field? In a flock would one be able to pick out Birds of Icelandic origin?

Phil Slade said...

Hi David. Any differences are not normally seen in the field. Redwings are difficult to observe at the best of times. The variation can be very difficult in the hand with only the darkest ones that are also larger, assigned to the Icelandic sub-species, and even then, others remain as "probables" and "possibles" because of the overlap in measurements and shades of brow, cream etc.

Rhodesia said...

Not sure that I have ever seen a Redwing, what pretty birds. Still trying to get my computer back to sort of where I was before I crashed out. Time and patience are needed and I lack the latter I am afraid. Take care Diane

italiafinlandia said...

Nice to get to know the two Redwings.
Some Whooper swans are still in Finland and as far as two days ago I saw a Robin.
Today some light snowfall came.. we'll see who will leave in the next days.

Adam Jones said...

It's great to be able to see the comparison between the two here. I'll be looking out for some Icelandic variants now.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, great photos of both Redwings. The Icelandic has some pretty color. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend.

Anu said...

Hello. Interesting post. The Icelanding redwing really looks much darker than the European redwing. Both are very beautiful.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

They have such beautiful colors. Would be challenging for an artist to paint one! Enjoy your weekend!

KB said...

Beautiful photos and birds

A Quiet Corner said...

I have never seen a Redwing in person. They are striking, Phil...:)JP

Lowcarb team member said...

Aren't they birds with a beautiful colouring, the Icelandic Redwing does appear to have a slightly darker colour.

Hope your weekend is going well, it's getting chilly down South!

All the best Jan

sandyland said...

I want that partridge to come to my feeding area and bring the redwing

Anni said...

What an impressive redwing! Too bad the weather doesn't cooperate during migrations

I'm running a bit late visiting this weekend since I spent about 5 hours in the ER with heart issues. Thanks for sharing your post!

A Colorful World said...

Such chilly work! I love that Icelandic Redwing!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Skipping the post and jumping right to the banner image of the that is a spectacular looking bird and your image is crisp and wonderful!!! The Red Wing is also delightful, so pretty. Happy to be back blogging~

Angie said...

Phil - good for you braving the elements! We've had a turn in the weather as well - our summer may well and truly be gone!

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