Like many across the North-east United States and Eastern Canada, I've been enjoying the current irruption of winter finches, in particular the redpolls. While relatively small flocks have cropped up in Gill, Turner's Falls, Montague, Sunderland and Buckland throughout the winter, very few have been sticking to any particular favored feeding area making them extremely difficult to work with. Recently, through diligently searching the snowy wastes and fields of Franklin County I did come across a decent sized flock of redpolls in Whately and managed to spend a couple of hours with them each day this week. The nervous, swirling flocks were not at all easy to observe but eventually, with some patience, I was able to get to grips with at least some of the taxa that I'd been hoping to see. The identification of any of these redpolls should certainly be regarded as tentative and I'll be delighted to receive comment and corrections on any of them.
The first of these taxa included several putative 'Greater' Common Redpolls Acanthis flammea rostrata, a sub-species breeding in Baffin Island, Southern Greenland, and Northern Iceland. 'Greater' Redpolls can apparently be found wintering in the Eastern US in incursion years and the handful that I noted were not at all easy to pick out from the hundreds of nervous redpolls within the main flock. But, by watching carefully in the field and working with the camera, I do seem to have come up with several decent candidates. Even so, as mentioned, the IDs are intended to be tentative and I remain open to the possibility that these birds are not rostrata but simply dark, heavily streaked flammea that merely looked large and heavy.