Monthly Archives: June 2014

Abyssinian Roller VIDEO

First for Europe

Thanks to those especially Dominic Mitchell and Rich Bonser who indicated that the bird on Canaries  is not a first for the WP. There are several other Western Palearctic records from North Africa. So this species at cursory look seem to make occasional movements beyond the Sahel. Check out the superb video by Juan below

Juan Sagardia


Abyssinian Roller on the Canaries

First for Spain and Europe

Juan Sagardia sent these superb photos yesterday with this comment:


Coracias abyssinicus in Fuerteventura

A specimen discovered in the Barranco de la Torre in Antigua on the island of Fuerteventura by Alain Pataud on June 92014.
It may be the first event of this sort to Europe.
We talked with zoos and none has ever had this species.
In the same place there was also a possible Phylloscopus orientalis. See what you think.
I have attached photos of the two species of yesterday (13th June 2014).
Best regards
More info on Rare Birds in Spain

!cid_36099868-A373-4AD0-8F05-09ECDEBA8BF4 !cid_D2C62EC4-79CC-4939-AEAE-20BD61D701A0 !cid_574E7A9F-F9B1-45D8-94B0-ED2B352AA4A0

and an apparent  Balkan Warbler (aka Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler). Waiting to find out if it called….

!cid_DF3329AC-7086-4089-A071-ECA6FF993F34 !cid_2BF95586-1742-4D30-BACC-8AFB4E996819

all photos above by Juan Sagardia

Siberian Chiffchaffs in Alaska

3rd record for N. America. Or have there been 4 now?

with Paul Lehman

Paul passed on these photos and comment from Bob Dittrick

“On June 9th 2014 a group of Colorado birders found another Chiffchaff in the boatyard at Gambell. Here are a couple of photos I got.”

Paul has special interest as this appear to be the 3rd record for the USA. Paul found both the first and second records in spring 2012 and autumn 2013 on Gambell.

All 4 Records

All appear from the photos to be Siberian Chiffchaffs ‘tristis’.

Have a look. Here are photos of all 4 records, all on Gambell, Alaska the first was not (yet) been accepted:

9th June 2014

Siberian Chiffchaff, Gambell, Alaska, 9th June 2014. Bob Dittrick

Siberian Chiffchaff, Gambell, Alaska, 9th June 2014. Bob Dittrick

Siberian Chiffchaff, Gambell, Alaska, 9th June 2014. Bob Dittrick

Siberian Chiffchaff, Gambell, Alaska, 9th June 2014. Bob Dittrick

I asked Paul about the previous records:


Actually, I found the two previous birds there (in spring 2012 and fall
2013), including the USA’s first, so not awful that I missed this
one–although now I no longer have seen ALL of North America’s individuals!

 22nd-23rd September 2013.

SICHIFF 3B crop 092213 CI SICHIFF 1B crop 092213 CI


 6th-7th June 2012.

Photos below by Kevin Zimmer

Zimmer Phyllosc 1 Zimmer Phyllosc 4


30th September – 3rd October 2011.

Attached are the only two usable photos of the ‘original’ Chiffchaff
photo’d by Peter Scully at Gambell from 30 Sep-3 Oct 2011. Sure does
look like a Chiffchaff, and the second photo strongly suggests short
primary extension. It would be a first for North America. Now that we have three others, I wonder if it should be reconsidered…..



Curlews from the East…

orientalis and suschkini questions

In the next month or so, migrant Curlew will appear in the UK, some from further east. With the paper just published in British Birds magazine it reminded me of this  blast for the past which remains unresolved for me.

Martin Garner

Curlew are alredy on the move- at least on Britain’s east coast. Be interested to know if you see any like this one:


This is an old chestnut. A Curlew which rabbed my attention in July 2009 on the shoreline along Spurn Peninsula. Watched feeding with another bird, the intriguing feature were the flanks- with fine pencil-like streaks and very little cross-barring. A flank pattern more in keeping with the eastern form ‘orientialis’. Then it flew and I managed a few flight shots.

Were there any more interesting features? The underwing appeared all white- well not especially unusual among migrating Curlew in Britain. BUT the tail pattern was unusual. Have a look for yourself. I wondered of it fit the little know taxon suschkini

Following his paper published this month in British Birds, Andrea Corso commented on this bird as follows:

“I think that WP populations of Numenius arquata ssp. is far more variable that we all think, and that birds from Eastern Europe to Middle East to Near East and Russia have such a great deal of intermediates/clinal birds and populations, that is a huge mess to try to ID an out of range sushkini or orientalis even….

Your bird is to my eye surely an “eastern” birds, 2cy, so that’s why fine underparts streaking, not orientalis due to very slender and delicate and short bill, legs and wings….   so they could be either the so called “sushkini” or simply birds from one of those populations that intergrade with this taxon or even nominate arquata-orientalis showing mixed characters.

We really need for those birds isotopic or genetic data to undertsand from where they come…

But, sure, worthwhile studying these birds 🙂


Curlew 1 25  July 09 021 Curlew 2 25  July 09 025 Curlew 5 25  July 09 028 Curlew 6 25  July 09 029



Cuckoo or Oriental Cuckoo?

without hearing it…

One of the trickiest ID’s in the Western Palearctic region has to be how to tell a Cuckoo from an Oriental Cuckoo without hearing it. The key features are spelt out here but they are ‘soft characters.’  Does the slight brownish tone to some upperpart feathers and pale tipped primaries make it a first summer (2cy) bird? If you have any tips…

Anders Mæland perhaps the leading rare bird finder in Varanger got in touch. Kudos to Colin and Denise Shields for asking the questions. I know Skallelve- as brilliant spot for Arctic Redpolls in early spring and good wee migrant trap for both passerines and non- passerines. Saw my first Siberian Snow Bunting there (vlasowae) with Tormod Amundsen and both types of Bean Geese…


Hei Martin!
How are you? have you seen any good birds lately?
I am in Varanger now and met a British couple, Denise and Colin Shields that had photographed this Cuckoo near Skallelv (Between Vardø and Vadsø).
They noticed the  dark mantle, yellowish undertail covers and the broad barring. These are features at least associated with Oriental Cuckoo
Any thoughts?
All the best!
cuckoo sp, Skellelv, Varanger. 3rd  June 2014 Denise Shields

cuckoo sp, Skellelv, Varanger. 3rd June 2014 Denise Shields

cuckoo sp, Skellelv, Varanger. 3rd  June 2014 Denise Shields

cuckoo sp, Skellelv, Varanger. 3rd June 2014 Denise Shields

Answers to Bird Sound Quiz

Thanks to all those who had a go with this little quiz posted last weekend. Hope you enjoyed the challenge :). Some were easy than others…

Hidden songster can be especially tricky but we dare not ignore them!

Here are the answers:

Icterine Warber

at Spurn in early June 2012. Can you hear the ‘squeaky toy motif or as one friend put it: Think children’s programme Sooty and Sweep- the noise which Sweep made!

Marsh Warbler

at Flambrough in early June 2013. How about that BLue Tit mimic at the end. Th ultimate songster, with over 200 species recorded as being imitated by Marsh Warbler, in one case over 90 species mimicked by just one individual.

Garden Warbler

at Flambrough in May 2014. Bit of practice needed to distinguish the more melodic songs of Blackcap and Garden Warbler. This was almost impossible to see. lacks the ‘little diddle’ ditty of Blackcap (which I can’t put into words!)


Common Chiffchaff

at Flambrough in May 2014. Not an easy one. This bird is paired in South Landing this summer and the male I think calls very loudly and almost Chaffinch-like.