More on Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) and Happy Christmas!

More on Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) and Happy Christmas!

Another Little Brown Job (LBJ) is the Redpoll (see December 2017 blog). It has a troubled taxonomic history. The species that breeds in England, Wales and (parts of) Scotland is designated the Lesser Redpoll. It has been separated from the Common Redpoll but in Ireland both “species” are considered the same – Common Redpoll.

Lesser Redpoll used to be a regular breeder in our project area; in spring displaying males could be heard in song flight over Romsey Town, Cherry Hinton and Petersfield. In 1989 a male was singing from the telegraph wires above Ridgeon’s wood yard in Cavendish Road. Within ten years it had disappeared as a breeding species in, not just Cambridge City but Cambridgeshire – the last confirmed breeding was in Coleridge in 2002, although a displaying bird was heard over Carlton Way/Gilbert Road in spring 2016.  A warming climate seems to be the reason this arboreal finch has receded north and west with a strong increase in Ireland. It is now a winter visitor to our project area and should be looked for feeding on Alder catkins – Newnham park play area and Milton Country Park near the apple orchard are good sites. It is a small Linnet-like Little Brown Job (LBJ) – the males have a red forehead (“poll)” and a black bib. It has a very distinctive flight call. Flocks may contain Common Redpolls which are paler with distinct whiter wing bars.

Siskins often accompany Redpoll flocks in winter and also feed on Alder catkins and visit garden feeders. They have distinctive yellow rumps and wing-bars. They breed in conifer woods, are common in the Thetford/Brandon Brecklands, but displaying males often linger in spring and singing birds have been seen in Cherry Hinton Hall park in late April.

Siskins in Chesterton
11-14th 2017

Another record of a single Stonechat from our project area – Trumpington, Country Park from Guy Belcher.

A walk along the Riverside will produce (Grey) Herons, Cormorants on the willows near Logan’s Meadow, possible Water Rail in Logan’s Meadow nature reserve, wintering Chiffchaff and Kingfisher (given away by its distinctive flight call – a loud “jeet”), winter plumage Black-headed Gulls and Green Woodpeckers often “grubbing” for ants.

Blackcap records for this winter period have come from Benson Street, Alpha Road and Longworth Avenue.

Male Sparrow Hawk sitting on a balcony rail, Riverside [left] and (Grey) Heron [right], Riverside (thanks to Nigel Fuller)