[Tweeters] Larsen Lake redpolls [hoary redpoll?]

Pterodroma at aol.com Pterodroma at aol.com
Tue Aug 20 05:47:27 PDT 2013

Relax, stay put, nothing of the sort like that about right now.

However, and FWIW, I'm revisiting the Feb-Mar 2013 Larsen Lake Redpoll
incursion again and thought I should post something BEFORE the answers to the
May-June "Birding Magazine" photo quiz are revealed in the next issue due
out in a week or two. I don't know the answers but am eagerly awaiting the
forthcoming issue of "Birding" to find out.

Back in February, Feb 10, four of us studied a bird among the 25 or so
Common Redpolls assembled in the birches SE of Larsen Lake and were
satisfactorily convinced that one of those birds, a female, was a Hoary Redpoll,
clean white rump and all. And I wrote pretty extensively about the bird to
Tweeters sounding fairly convincing I thought, and thoroughly optimistic that
the area's finest and brightest would descend on the Lake Hills Greenbelt
and confirm the sighting AND obtain adequate photo documentation. Much to my
surprise and dismay, that didn't happen; the area's finest and brightest,
yes, but no convincing Hoary Redpoll seen or photographed with their
super-duper long lenses by the masses assembled. A couple other people in
subsequent days did in fact see and report what they were convinced WAS a Hoary
Redpoll, posted the fact with details on Tweeters and submitted reports to
the rarities committee for review. Where all that stands now, I have no

Personally, I ultimately dismissed the bird in question, the one at least
that we saw for lack of adequately convincing photographic evidence and
because the area's finest and brightest sorely let me down by failing to find
the one bird of particular interest, or maybe they did and I was wrong, who
knows. One photo was taken by one of our little party, a digital shot
encompassing an enormous expanse of birches and tiny little dots for redpolls.
Editing and blowing segments of that image up resulted in isolating one
individual that may or may not have been the bird in question, I can't say
for sure, but probably was, ...but then, maybe. From that one image alone,
I just simply couldn't say yay or nay, and decided it best to just let it
go and forget it. Tough as it is, you simply have to do that sometimes.

Gone and largely forgotten, until..., a couple months ago the May-June
issue of "Birding" arrived with the photo ID quiz in the back on page 64, and I
suddenly saw a shocking image that to my eye was a dead dead ringer of
the Feb 10 Larsen Lake redpoll in question, the #2 image. Like I say, as of
this writing I don't know the correct answers, it may be a Hoary Redpoll,
it may not. Right or wrong, my impressions of those quiz photos are for
Hoary Redpoll (images #1 and #2), and for #3, I'm about 50-50 either way
leaning maybe slightly more toward Common Redpoll although the bill looks more
hoary redpollish.

A few days ago, ABA's "Flight Calls" came in the email including a link to
the May-June redpoll photo quiz, minus the answers of course, but
re-igniting my thoughts about all this yet once again. The images viewed at the
link vs those actually printed in "Birding" are of much better quality and in
fact much better portray an image (#2) that is just dead-on for the Feb 10
LHG bird in question, plain and simple. Check it out here:

_Redpoll ABA photo quiz - May/June 2013 Birding_
[ http://blog.aba.org/2013/06/new-photo-quiz-mayjune-2013-birding.html ]

I don't suppose any of this will resolve anything, but hopefully once the
big reveal hits my mailbox in coming days, the analysis at the very least
will be most educative as most of these ABA photo quizzes usually are. IF
the #2 image IS a Hoary Redpoll, then I think we did in fact observe a Hoary
Redpoll; if #2 is a Common Redpoll, then so be it and I will have learned
from it. Anyway, I just wanted to get these thoughts out on the record
BEFORE the big reveal so it won't sound like I'm chasing my tail after the

Richard Rowlett
Bellevue (Eastgate), WA

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