Category Archives: 18) Warblers, Crests, Wrens

Desert Lesser Whitethroats

Two of ‘em!

Spun Bird Observatory has had  monster autumn. Alongside some more sexy headlining birds were two halimodendri candidates. This remains a rare bird in Britian whereas the term ‘scarce’ probably fits Siberian Lesser Whitethroats (blythi).

The first was found at Easington Cemetery by Tony Disley on 14th-15th October. Here it is:

halimodenrdi e c late oct 14

The second was at the point near the VHS tower. Both called (which helps enormously in the ID) and recordings were obtained of each. Sonograms look the same and fit halimodendri nicely. Here’s the point bird. Have a listen:

Here’s the sonogram of that November point bird. Though some variation, notice the thicker introductory note followed by several thinner notes on the seconds series. It’s virtually identical to the recording featured via the QR code in the Challenge Series: AUTUMN.

lesser whitethroat spurn 13 nov 2014


Here’s that second bird (the one with the recording above)  at the point on 13th November 2014. Both photos by Dave Boyle. Can’t see all you would want to but the bill looks smallish, the primary projection looks tiny and ‘squished’ the second primary (P2) looks especially short and the outer tail  feather very white.

8C0AC5FD-A431-A6DE-6B41-8CD5F85F6749 B5E5E47E-A3EB-3F5A-9475-6DBC25AD1DD7


Back to Bird One

Here’s the bird at Easington Cemetery on 14th-15th October. Photos by Tony Disley. The first photo shows  fat rounded heading and tiny bill. Lovely! Again the primary projection looks  like its particularly short.

All this info is in the Challenge Series. Great to see records like these where lots of data obtained helping towards a much more robust ID than the old generic ‘Eastern Lesser Whitethroat’ epithet.

halimodenrdi b e c late oct 14 halimodenrdi c e c late oct 14 halimodenrdi d e c late oct 14 halimodenrdi e c late oct 14 halimodenrdi e e c late oct 14


Eastern Crowned Warbler – how it was found

Ian Kendall tells the story of finding a 3rd for Britain

It was 30th October…

…and the winds were from the south-south east, so opting for Hunley Hall Golf Course out of one of three local patches, I decided to check the plantation near to the hotel first, somewhere I rarely check. A quick circuit revealed good numbers of Blackbirds and a couple of Brambling, although little else, but just as I was leaving the wood I noticed a pale phylloscopus Warbler in the last Sycamore. It looked like it then flew across the road into some Dogwood, so I walked out to the edge of the wood to check, but couldn’t find it – hey ho, another one lost and I started to leave the wood, but as I did something made me glance back into the Sycamore and luckily the warbler was still in it. I put my bins up and was stunned to see a bulky looking green and white warbler with a couple of weak wing bars and a long parallel looking white super, upturned at the rear of the crown and my first thoughts were ‘Bloody hell Arctic’. It then came towards me and I was struck by its gleaming white underparts and the long bright super, set in much darker surrounds. ****, time for a phone call.

Eastern Crowned Warbler by Martyn Sidwell.

Eastern Crowned Warbler by Martyn Sidwell.

I phoned Mark Askew saying that I think I’ve got an Eastern Crowned, but that it may be just an Arctic. I then waited for backup and a bit of reality checking and during the wait the bird showed pretty well, at one point turning its head on its side facing away from me, showing what I was sure was a reasonably obvious central crown stripe. Its legs looked pale, in particular the feet (all I could see of the legs in one view) and at one point the bird was right overhead and the broad based bill was wholly orange underneath. Things were now getting serious and I didn’t have to wait too long before Graham Megson arrived, but the bird had moved further into the wood and had disappeared. He’d interpreted Mark’s phone call as Eastern Bonelli’s, so when I was waffling on about confusion with Arctic, he must have thought they were the ramblings of a mad man. Quickly back on track Ian Boustead arrived next, so we spilt up and tried to relocate the bird.

I was blissfully unaware of the “On this day”….coincidence, with the Herts record, not that, I’d necessarily go out with a view to finding an Eastern Crowned and frankly a Yellow-browed would have been more than my expectations for the day. Anyway, back to reality – after a few minutes Ian Boustead shouted and came running up the path with the kind of athleticism only shown in the presence of a rare bird, saying he’d seen it and it was sure it was an Eastern Crowned. We found Graham watching the bird and over the next half hour or so we all got reasonable views, but agreed the crown looked entirely plain olive green and so by now, we were convincing ourselves it was Arctic. Mark Rowbottom was next on the scene and after a few more views I’d now clearly seen a broad off white patch at the rear of the crown, although this didn’t look like it extended to more than a square patch. However, along with the gleaming white underparts it convinced me it had to be Eastern Crowned. What was going on, this was now getting frustrating. Mark was the voice of reason though and suggested we now needed to do something – after all even Arctic hadn’t been seen in the county for 18 years, so either way others needed to see it and we needed to make a decision, but a hard call for such a rare bird.

Mark’s voice of reason lead to a flurry of activity; comparison of some of the photos Ian had skilfully managed to get of the bird, with internet photos, a few calls to people who could get to site to help confirm what we were seeing, quick chat with RBA and a conversation with the hotel staff over parking arrangements.

Eastern Crowned Warbler by Martyn Sidwell.

Eastern Crowned Warbler by Martyn Sidwell.

Dave Aitken was also on his way from Flamborough with various it is, it isn’t phone calls to him and he stopped to text me Martin Garner’s details. Martin (an old Poly mate) and I had a useful few discussions and I’d gleaned a few useful pointers to help us reason what we were looking at – the dark olive crown sides fitted with the ‘almost Sedge Warbler like feel to the head’, the lower mandible clearly lacked a dark tip and the primary projection was short, making the bird feel quite heavily front ended. Also, the lemon undertail coverts were supposed to be a clincher and I hadn’t really seen that, but one of Ian Boustead’s photos seemed to show it and just after looking at the photo the bird moved through the canopy and they seemed to be there. Time now to walk the dog and during my check of the wider golf course, others, including Tom Francis arrived and confirmed the presence of lemon undertail coverts and this, combined with the suite of other features we’d seen meant it was ‘good to go’.

Eastern Crowned Warbler by Martyn Sidwell.

Eastern Crowned Warbler by Martyn Sidwell.

A little chat with the hotel staff too, to change from Arctic (a few cars) to Eastern Crowned (a few more cars).

As more people turned it could be frustratingly difficult to pick up at times and moved around a bit sluggishly, not dissimilar to Red-eyed Vireo. In the afternoon it vanished for over an hour and had moved to the far side of the wood, where it was thankfully re-found by Mark Askew (much to his huge relief) in a large leafy Sycamore, although even then it was still difficult and some people were unable to get on it, not helped by the assault course like nature of this part of the wood and the fading light. Fortunately it remained pretty faithful to the corner of the wood where it was first found for much of the rest of its stay and showed well in some fine sunshine through to Saturday evening but departed overnight. At times on the Friday it was calling a lot, sounding pretty much like a weak Bullfinch and Trevor Charlton heard a fairly hard alarm call at one point.

It was a fine looking creature, with some cracking features – the dark olive lateral sides of the crown, the clean white underparts, lemony undertail coverts, the bright fringes to the flight feathers, the often obscured median crown stipe and pale lower mandible – all easy to see in a relaxed state, but the leap from a phone-call to a mate to a phone call to the wider world in a state of trembling excitement was a reasonably big one. Thanks to those who helped in the process on confirming the bird, you know who you are.

Cleveland can pay rewards for endless hours of patch working and to that I’m grateful and suffice it to say I’ll be checking the wood just a little bit more often in the future.

Eastern Crowned Warbler- a bit closer

Martyn Sidwell

…has sent in these images of the Eastern Crowned Warbler taken this afternoon (31st October). Much closer than some of my shots yesterday they showcase beautifully the bird’s features. Nice one Martyn. Has anyone could got recordings of the bird’s call? It has been quite vocal.

Made me remember the Eastern Crowned in Jochen’s garden.



Eastern Crowned Warbler

30th October 2014, Brotton

Ian Kendal lives just fives minutes away from the copse of trees at the Hunley Golf Course entrance. He doesn’t normally check it much. This was just a morning walk with his collie.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day: phones calls with Ian (who I went to Hatfield Poly with in 1982/3!) and Dave Aitken, ‘the twitch’ with Messrs Baines, Leadley and Deighton and the assembled Yorkshire and beyond birding contingent.

I think Ian might go there a little more often after finding this. Awesome once-in-a-lifetime find.

A few photos showing some features. Sure loads better to come. Hopefully will get seen again today.

stunning head with dark lateral crown stripes big white supercilium and wholly orange lower mandible

stunning head with dark lateral crown stripes big white supercilium and wholly orange lower mandible

two wing bars and pale central crown strip limited to rear of crown

two wing bars and pale central crown strip limited to rear of crown

yellow undertail coverts just discernible contrasting with otherwise essentially white underparts

yellow undertail coverts just discernible contrasting with otherwise essentially white underparts


colours captured better on Rich Baines camera

colours captured better on Rich Baines camera

lovely close up of head and bill by Martyn Sidwell. Thanks!

lovely close up of head and bill by Martyn Sidwell. Thanks!



Digiscoping a Yellow-browed Warbler and more…

Justin Carr


On a recent visit to Spurn i was informed of a confiding Yellow-browed Warbler in the Crown and Anchor car park.


All images above close encounters of a yellow browed kind

All images above close encounters of a yellow browed kind

Confiding Siskin

Confiding Siskin

One of many Goldcrest present

One of many Goldcrest present.

All images taken with a panasonic GH3 on a Swarovski 80.                                                                       Good digiscoping!!

Siberian Chiffchaff

as the wind turns east

Martin Garner

It was already late in the day this afternoon with light beginning to fade. A few of us were hoping for some more views of the Radde’s Warbler. Walking back up the last hedge at Flamborough I heard a call. My mind flitted momentarily with a wader overhead (like Golden Plover) and tristis Chiffchaff. No not the wader. The cogs were whirring in the brain. It’s surely that familiar sound of a note perfect Siberian Chiffchaff.

Can’t remember declaring one on call before even seeing any kind of a bird. Eventually the pale warbler appeared- loverly!

More of these please.

(photos on high ISO in rapidly fading light)

siberian Chiffchaff 12 oct 14.b.jpg v siberian Chiffchaff 12 oct 14.d siberian Chiffchaff 12 oct 14a

Moltoni’s Warbler – is there one right now

in Cornwall?

An adult male ‘subalpine warbler’ was found 2 days ago (Friday) by Trev Charlton. It’s been in the news as an Eastern Subalpine Warbler. I chatted to him today as he finally nailed some flight shots. It’s bothering him. Now I have seen his photos its bothering me too.

TCs subapl

How much weight do you put in your words. We could skirt around with… It might be one, it’s other Eastern or Moltoni’s or… what I really want to say (from the photos) it surely looks a good Moltoni’s candidate! (P.S. I bet it is one !)

You decide.

The call is really needed to clinch the ID so here’s hoping for tomorrow. Trevor has done all the leg work- he’s just bouncing ideas off me. I agree with where he’s going.

Why is it so attention grabbing?

The photos appear to show

1) an adult male type tail with no white intrusion up T5

2) soft pastel plumage tones kinda spot on ‘salmon-pink’ for Moltoni’s and perhaps a little too extensive for Eastern. Colour described as like cheap pink tinned salmon. :)

3) a rather thin white ‘sub-mustachio stripe’ (caveats about that feature but noted nevertheless)

4) there appears to be some moult limits- old and new feathers in flight feathers which should be all new in Eastern and Western but variable in the wacky moult of Moltoni’s

All this is explained in the book which has helped Trevor and of course this is what it’s for!

Helgoland October 2009

Here is an adult male Moltoni’s  Warbler which is featured in the Challenge Series: AUTUMN. These excellent photos were taken by Ole Krome on Helgoland in October 2009

Moltoni's Warbler ole Krome Moltoni's Warbler b ole Krome


 Porthgwarra, October 2014

Then here are Trevor’s photos of the bird presently at Porthgwarra, Cornwall.

Look at the list of characters above. Compare them with the photos below.

warbler w2  trev Charlton warbler trev Charlton tc 1 tc2


Could be an interesting next few days…

Certainly we will learn something!