Identifiable? A different ssp.?
Clive McKay and Ben Porter
These birds are good contenders for Icelandic Mipits. My ringing work has focussed on autumn birds (when they’re easy to catch). At that time of year I consider a yellowish wash to the upperparts along with a nice clear supercilium to be diagnostic of “non-British” birds. I can’t be definitive about spring birds, but Ben’s fit the bill well for how the plumage should look after a winter’s bleaching and wear and tear. They resemble birds I saw on passage through Tinsley SF (AKA Blackburn Meadows) Sheffield many moons ago – April migrants which stood out from the local breeders in that they looked more like Tree Pipits. Kevin Shepherd put me on to this originally, as he had noted a spring passage of similar birds at Sheringham, north Norfolk.
Ben – the race whistleri in my humble opinion requires confirmation. The original type specimens came from east Scotland (it’s supposed to be a west Scotland/Ireland/Iceland race) and were taken during the autumn migration period – when they could have come from anywhere on planet Mipit. I’m planning to visit the Royal Scottish Museum to check out the skins when I get a chance. Conversely, the Icelandic race probably IS sufficiently different to merit sub-specific status, but not as whistleri.
There’s every reason to believe that your birds could be the “Icelandic wave” passing >N through the west side of the country at the moment – recorded today at many west coast sites.
The chart below shows Mipit movements at vismig sites through the UK over the last two months. A rush of birds on 29th March was recorded mostly at west coast sites in Lancashire such as Fleetwood, Marshside, Rossall and Winter Hill, tying in with the arrival of your “Tree Mipits” at Bardsey a day earlier.