The presence of a male Trumpeter Northern Bullfinch in Wells Woods, Norfolk, has prompted me to return to this subject as I am unsure if the identification of these birds was ever resolved. Wells Woods also has the presence of a party of 6 'typical' Northern Bullfinches at the moment - the sounds being made being noticeably different.
I first came across 'Trumpeter' Bullfinches in Autumn 2004 when Britain and Ireland (and Scandinavia) enjoyed an unprecedented arrival of these heavyweight bullies, with large numbers arriving on Fair Isle and Shetland. They were obviously larger and heavier than our local birds, with huge bills and very broad wing-bars. Characteristically, they were remarkably confiding, incredibly tame but by far their most distinctive trait was the call - a selection of far-carrying, oddly chiming and rather trumpet-like contact calls. These were like no normal Northern Bullfinches I had ever come across before.
On subsequent visits to Finland, Sweden and Norway, I decided to make an effort to look and listen more carefully to the Northern Bullfinches present in these countries but found myself still very confused. Although slightly larger, brighter and heavier than our birds, they were not that significantly different in vocalisation, and clearly had that metallic feel to the sound but were more flutier and more melodic. They did not make these characteristic trumpet-like sounds and were also not particularly confiding or tame.
I was of the opinion that these Trumpeter Bullfinches originated from much further east than Scandinavia, possibly in Western Siberia or even from the Caucasus Region of the disputed territories and were an irruptive clinal population. However, talking with Killian Mullarney on the net, he now suggests that such birds are common in Scandinavia and Mark Constantine (The Sound Approach) has recorded Bullfinches in Finland making such vocalisations. This was certainly not my experience.
I am therefore appealing to Scandinavian birders to put me out of my misery. Do your resident or semi-resident Northern Bullfinches make such musical sounds recalling trumpeting and have 'Hawfinch-like' proportionate bills or do birds from much further east infiltrate the population from time to time? I genuinely find this situation very confusing.