There is plenty of information at hand within these pages, however, please do not hesitate in using the contact us page via the menu or the info@westmidlandbirdclub link at the foot of all pages if you would like to take a personal approach to gathering information; the Club Secretary will be pleased to deal with any enquiry. There is great scope to become involved in a wide range of Club activities, likewise you can go about your birding activities on a personal level and simply enjoy what the West Midland Bird Club has to offer in assisting your interests.
Submitting your bird records
The thought of finding a special bird is something that inspires us all.
Given such an occurrence, it would be a pity if the event was lost to
posterity due to inadequate recording. A report of a rare or unusual
bird should be accompanied by a detailed description and supporting
evidence. Without this necessary information being submitted to the
relevant authority, reports can only be regarded as unsubstantiated.
Using a social media site or birding blog is an excellent method of
broadcasting news of rare or unusual birds, such postings however, do
not constitute a true record submission. In order to validate your
findings, all reports should be sent to the appropriate County Recorder,
irrespective of any other postings.
The most helpful and productive way of going about this is to register
with the BTO online facility BirdTrack - www.bto.org/birdtrack . This site
not only keeps your records on file in a protected database but
provides unlimited access to all County Recorders in their investigative
searches. BirdTrack provides an on-line form comprising questions in
relation to those species that require descriptions together with a text
box for writing your own description. The completed automated form
and your personal description are then sent forward to the appropriate
Alternatively, records can be sent electronically to County Recorders using Excel or Word files that contain all necessary details or, by hand written record slips. To obtain handwritten record slips please contact your County Recorder for advice. The most important factor in all of this is to make sure that the relevant County Recorder receives this information.
The exercise of providing accurate records performs the task of gathering vital information on the occurrence and whereabouts of birds, information from which we all benefit.
This website offers a guideline to record submission to all those who wish to submit records from the West Midland Bird Club recording region.
Visit the Record Submission page.
Here you will find current information on contacting our regional County Recorders, accessing BirdTrack and record submission information.
The ultimate guide to submitting your records can be found in the West Midland Bird Club publication, A Checklist of the Birds of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands and Guide to Status and Record Submission.
Members of the West Midland Bird Club are provided with a copy of this publication (appropriate while stocks last). Anyone wishing to obtain a copy, again appropriate to availability, should contact the Club Membership Secretary - firstname.lastname@example.org . All those submitting records are encouraged to follow the guidelines set out in this booklet.
Good luck in your findings and make sure your records get their deserved recognition.
A resplendent winter (December) male Lesser Redpoll - Photograph Steve Seal
Migration activity in the north and east of the British Isles during the early to mid-autumn period of this year (2018) involved good numbers of Lesser Redpoll. These flocks were interspersed with a welcome scattering of Common Redpoll and a few Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, prompting speculation that a ‘Redpoll winter’ might well be on the cards. At the same time, reasonably good numbers of Lesser Redpoll arrived in our region, these too were accompanied by proportionately decent numbers of Common Redpoll and, fingers crossed, other Redpoll species and races. As might be expected, the momentum of these new arrivals moderated as we entered November. While the anticipated influx may not have reached the proportions that had been hoped for, there remains an incentive to seek out and investigate any Redpoll flocks in the hope they contain some special birds. Indications suggest there is every chance you could be rewarded for your efforts. In most winters Lesser Redpoll flocks are usually fairly well distributed, irrespective of there being an influx of continental birds. The larger the flock, then realistically, the greater the chance it could involve others.
Let’s take a look at the genus Acanthis (the Redpolls) to find out what we are dealing with before highlighting some of the identification problems that we will certainly be faced with.
Common Redpoll Acanthis flammea encompasses the world in a northerly zone of the northern hemisphere (Scandinavian and North European birds that winter in the British Isles are also referred to as Mealy Redpoll). This is a rare or scarce winter visitor to our region in fluctuating/invasive numbers. The species is further divided into two more geographical variations, both referred to as North-western Redpoll, A. f. rostrata (Greenland Redpoll) and A. f. islandica (Iceland Redpoll), both variations are considered as very rare in our region. Lesser Redpoll Acanthis cabaret, is a fairly common passage migrant, winter visitor and an uncommon or frequent breeding species in our region. Arctic Redpoll of the species hornemanni, is separated into two distinct geographical variations, Coues’s Arctic Redpoll A. h. exilipes (Northern Europe) and Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll A. h. hornemanni (Greenland and Arctic Canada). Both races of hornemanni are considered as very rare in our region.
Familiarising ourselves with the makeup of the Redpoll family is one thing, identifying them as separate species and races is another. These birds can range from being a fairly nondescript little brown job as in some Lesser Redpolls, to a sandy faced white snowball of a bird as in Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll. We are dealing with plumage variations in sex and age, involving pale and dark variants of the same species. There is also an overlap in plumage variations and size involving the different species. A useful initial approach when separating A. cabaret from A. flammea, these being the two most likely species that you will encounter, is to distinguish size and structure in comparison to other birds. Colour toning can often be quite distinct between these two species but this is not always the case and an awareness of this is important. Images 1. and 2. are typical examples, but not necessarily a constant definition. Very pale A. cabaret can often be confused as being A. flammea, while dull A. flammea are often overlooked in flocks of A. cabaret. A close scrutiny of all details, especially overall structure/build, bill size and shape, as well as plumage pattern and colour is always advisable. For a full and detailed account of the Redpoll family and their complicated identification, visit the Research Page of this website and read the excellent article by Andy Warr ‘Worcestershire Redpolls and a guide to their separation - updated 2016’. This informative paper is an ideal reference.
The Marsh Lane NR Redpoll sp. December 2007 is a good example of the identification problems that can be encountered when separating Redpoll species and races. An account of this bird can be found in the West Midland Bird Club Annual Report No.74, year 2007. To read this report visit the Archives page of this website where access to all WMBC annual reports (excluding current) is available.
The challenge of accurately identifying Redpolls is a fascinating and enjoyable subject that can often be a true birding test, however, when it all comes together and you find the bird you were hoping for, the rewards are well worth it
Make this winter your Redpoll winter and search for that special bird. Visiting the Club reserves at Belvide, Blithfield, Ladywalk and Harborne during the winter months will certainly offer a realistic opportunity to come into contact with Redpoll flocks, very best of luck with the next step. For details on gaining access to West Midland Bird Club Reserves, visit the Join page of this website.
Redpolls are readily attracted to garden feeding stations, particularly those that provide a regular supply of Sunflower seeds/hearts, or Niger seeds, (also known as Nyjer), so make sure you are ready for their arrival, you could be in for an entertaining winter.
Lesser Redpoll Acanthis cabaret, left bird in both images and Common Redpoll Acanthis flammea, right bird in both images - Blythe Valley CP - Photographs Tony Kelly. In this instance the structure and plumage difference is easily discernible, however, always be aware of colour variations and size overlap.
Redpoll sp. - Marsh Lane NR - Photograph Steve Seal
Image 1 Image 2