This was a very welcome sight when I looked out of the window yesterday. We've had redpolls in the garden in winter before, feeding on birch seeds, but this is the first time that I've noticed them on the bird feeders. The hard weather, together with a shortage of birch and alder seeds, must have driven them to compete with the siskins and goldfinches for the thistle seeds.
The photos aren't great, because of the reflections in the dirty double glazing and poor light, but the birds let me get reasonably close. The Rev. F.O.Morris, writing in his A History of British Birds (1891 edn.) commented that 'They are gentle and lively birds, and, unless scared, may be nearly approached: they will even return to the same tree immediately after having been fired at'.
These days the camera has replaced the gun and they kept coming back to the thistle seeds all day.
This is a handsome cock bird, with his chest feathers suffused with crimson, sharing the feeder with a goldfinch.
The feather pattern on the redpoll's back is particularly attractive.
Siskins and redpolls often flock together in birches and alders but there was some mutual antagonism between them when they shared the feeder, with the siskins generally being the more assertive of the two.