Lesser Redpolls are endemic to Europe. Originally found only in the British Isles and the Alps, since 1950 they have expanded their range into other countries bordering the North Sea, from northeast France to the southern fringes of Norway and Sweden, and to mountain areas of central Europe.
    In Great Britain they were limited originally to the northern highlands but by 1910 had spread into lowland Britain. Numbers fluctuated throughout the 20th century, with a large increase in the 1960s and 1970s, followed by an even larger decrease which saw the population fall by the turn of the century to barely a sixth of the numbers recorded in the 1988-91 Breeding Atlas. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded a 22% contraction in their British breeding season range since 1988-1991, most of the decline occuring in northeast England, East Anglia and the English midlands. In summer they remain widespread in Scotland, northwest England and Wales but occur only patchily south and east of a line drawn from the Tees to the Severn estuaries. In winter they disperse more widely into the lowland areas.
    Wiltshire lies within the area which Lesser Redpolls largely vacated in the breeding season from the late 20th Century onwards. They were never common  in summer in the county, and the few records that did occur were mostly of late-staying winter visitors or of passage migrants. Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in 17 tetrads in the breeding season, but with breeding confirmed in only one. WTA2 did not record even one instance of breeding, though Lesser Redpolls were recorded in 31 tetrads in the course of the five years of summer fieldwork for the atlas. Their numbers were swollen in winter by birds moving away from colder, higher areas elsewhere in Britain - WTA2 recorded them present in 160 tetrads in Winter.

The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
“Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.