- Overview of Redpolls ringed in Europe and recovered in Asia
- Complementary to the post on recoveries from China


Figure 1. Mealy Redpoll, adult female, 19 Devember 2017, Meijendel, Wassenaar, the Netherlands (note this bird was not recovered in Asia; illustration only)

In 2018 I made an overview of all known Mealy Redpoll ringing recoveries between Europe and China. If Redpolls travel between Europe and NE China, they must also pass other parts of Asia. Here I summarize and visualise known ringing recoveries.

In 2018 I received (more accurately: bought) a query from EURING with all passerines ringed in Europe that were recovered in Asia (up to and including 2017). Birds ringed in Asia and recovered in Europe are however not included, as these data do not belong to the European ringing schemes, but the Asian ones. I excluded birds ringed in European Russia and recovered in Asiatic Russia. 

It’s hard to define where Europe exactly ends and Asiatic Russia starts, other than ‘east of the Ural Mountains’. For pragmatic reasons I followed the administrative borders of the oblasts, krais and republics (Figure 2).
I marked the ringing and recovery sites on a map on these same administrative levels (hence, all dots are placed in the right country, province, oblast, krai or republic, but not necessarily exactly on the ringing/recovery site within these areas).

Bonus material

I also added some bonus recoveries that are actually from Europe, but these birds were recovered very close to the Asian border. I also included the only ringing recovery of an Arctic Redpoll near Asia (but still within Europe). 


Background info
For some background information on Redpoll movements, I refer to my post on
Chinese ringing recoveries.   


Russian and Central Asian Redpolls

Up to and including 2017, European ringed Redpolls were recovered in Asiatic Russia (23), Asiatic Kazakhstan (1; with another one in European Kazakhstan) and Uzbekistan (1). These birds were ringed in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Sweden and Finland. None of the recoveries are from the breeding season. With no less than 15 recoveries, the Sverdlovsk Oblast really stands out. Whether this is due to for instance observer coverage is unknown. The easternmost bird was reported from the Irkutsk Oblast, ringed on 8 October 1972 and recovered there on 4 November 1974, at a distance of 5.087 km. The bird ringed on 26 September 1998 near Troms, Norway that was recovered at the Karakalpakstan Republic, Uzbekistan on 20 November 2002 covered the longest distance: 6788 km. God only knows where it hung out during the four years between the recoveries! For a visualisation of all recoveries, see Figure 2.



Figure 2. Map with recoveries of Redpolls ringed in European countries (pink dots) recovered in or very near (blue dots) Asia (excl. China). The green line divides Europe and Asia. The white and red dot indicate the single Artic Redpoll that ringed in Europe (white) and recovered very near the Asian border (red).

Time passed between recoveries
Interesting about the Chinese recoveries is that none of them were controlled within the same season – or even within the same calendar year of ringing for that matter. The fastest bird flew from China to NW Europe in 364 days. The recoveries between Europe and western Asia paint a different picture: Redpolls are perfectly capable of covering the distance between northern Europe and western Asia within a single migration season.8 birds ringed in Scandinavia (2 from Norway, 6 from Finland) were recovered in Asiatic Russia within c 3 months time (max 113 days): 6 in Sverdlovsk Oblast, 1 in Novosibirsk Oblast and 1 in Altai Krai. The fastest bird was ringed near Varjakansaari, Oulu, Finland on 9 September 1966 and recovered only 23 days later near Krasnoufimsk, Sverdlovsk Oblast on 2 October 1966 (distance: 1964 km). A good second was a bird from
Pyhäjoki, Oulu, Finland on 14 September 1968 recovered on 14 October 1968 near Novouralsk, Serdlovsk Oblast: 2028 km in 30 days. An additional 7 birds were recovered 27-104 days after ringing in European areas bordering Asia. The oldest bird in the dataset is the one from Uzbekistan. It was ringed near Helligskogen, Troms, Norway on 26 September 1998 and recovered at Kazakhdarya, Karakalpakstan Republic, Uzbekistan on 20 November 2002. 1515 days had passed since. 


A final thought
Redpolls roam between NE China and Europe, so they must pass other parts of Asia. So far, there are no recoveries between Europe and China within the same season, or even calendar year. Therefore I believe these wandering birds breed somewhere between NE China and Europe in the summer(s) between these recoveries. Ringing recoveries from Asiatic Russia and Central Asia indeed show that the birds pass other parts of Asia, but unfortunately none of them were controlled during the breeding season. European ringed Redpolls are however perfectly capable of reaching (western) Asian grounds within the same season they were ringed, as shown by a series of recoveries.


I am grateful to the European Union for Bird Ringing (EURING) which made the recovery data available through the EURING Data Bank and to the many ringers and ringing scheme staff who have gathered and prepared the data. Special thanks go to Dorian Moss. I received individual responses from Håvard Husebø (Norwegian scheme), Jesper Madsen (Danish scheme), Jari Valkama (Finnish scheme). Very much appreciated!


If anyone knows of a Redpoll ringed in Asia and controlled in Europe, please let me know!