Life is a cabaret

I like a good storm as much as the next birder, perhaps more so, but I was relieved to see the wind had dropped this morning.
Yesterday it was still pretty breezy and at Marshside the Spoonbill, ringtail Hen Harrier, Avocets and two Barnacle Geese were all great value, with the former still bog-snorkelling along the ditches behind Polly’s and the ringtail coming pretty close to the Sandplant.
Much calmer today though, and with a week off, I walked into the Local Nature Reserve at Birkdale in near perpetual light rain.
It was quiet, but I did come across 2-3 Redpolls amongst the Siskins, Goldcrests and titmice.
At first I couldn’t get a good view of the birds as they had the watery grey light behind ’em.

All Redpolls deserve close inspection, even if they do make my head hurt, so I followed the loose feeding flock through the birches until the light was behind me and I could watch as they fed quietly on buds.

Clearly good, straightforward buffy cabaret Lesser Redpolls, it was all going swimmingly until I noticed the third bird seemed much paler and I had to try and remember all the confusing Redpoll stuff that you store away (or in my case, blot out) for a rainy day much like this one…

Small bill, small bib, paler, heavily streaked rump, whiter wing bars, white belly and vent with minimal streaking etc etc.
I needn’t have worried though, I wasn’t really in Mealy land, not by a long chalk.
The more I watched the bird, the more I realised it was a male cabaret, just a bit worn probably, which gave the initial paler impression, and this was exaggerated by the wet, watery light conditions.*

As the light softened the bird began to assume the buffier hues I was expecting and I relaxed.
All good clean fun.
* More than happy to hear other views though, if anyone fancies a spin round the ornithological padded cell that is Redpoll ID ….

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