Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Redwings Icelandic or Scandinavian

There has been some discussion in Ireland over the last few weeks as to how numerous Icelandic Redwings are in Ireland. Recent findings of the Icelandic race spp. coburni in Wexford by Killian Mullarney (info at irishbirding.com), has sparked off interest in Redwing Thurdus iliacus flocks around the country. For many years I was of the belief that the majority of birds that arrived along the west coast of Ireland in autumn were of Icelandic origins, and that east coast birds were probably more likely to be of Scandinavian stocks. But ringing data and satellite tracking has shown that many Icelandic Redwings overshoot Ireland in autumn and hit France and Iberia, never stopping in Ireland or Britain.  But surely a small proportion visit this country in autumn and winter? Here are a few shots that I had to hand of Redwings taken over the last ten years.  One or two look Icelandic to me due to overall dark appearance in head and body plumage. I have seen birds in breeding plumage in Iceland but breeding plumage differs from winter plumage.  Any comments? I will try and dig out more shots of Redwing in the coming days and post them for your perusal, especially ground feeding birds. As always I have sent these shots off to some friends for their expert opinions and analysis.
 Redwing at Bellmullet in November 2014 © John N Murphy
 Redwing at Dromore Nature Reserve in December 2010 © John N Murphy
 Redwings at Coonagh, Limerick in December 2011 © John N Murphy
 Redwing at Shannon Industrial Estate, Clare in January © 2008 John N Murphy
Redwing at Ballycar, Clare in February 2005 © John N Murphy
 This bird was at St.Flannans College in Ennis, Clare in December 2011 © John N Murphy
These birds were photographed at Seafield, Quilty, Clare in December 2009 © John N Murphy 
Redwing at Coonagh, Limerick in December 2011 © John N Murphy


  1. Hi John, two birds here from my own collection that look good for coburni. http://dermotbreen.blogspot.ie/2015/03/22nd-march-2015.html

  2. Interesting Dermot, I got a chance to do lots more research online tonight and I'm struggling to call any of the Redwing photographs on our blogs Icelandic or coburni. I can't believe that between us with our combined years of birding and given where we reside on the Irish west coast, that it is possible that we have never seen Icelandic Redwing in Ireland. I'm shocked.