Category Archives: 18) Warblers, Crests, Wrens

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat – blythi

Spurn and Flamborough on 6th September 2014

Not expected. I mean it seems awful early. The earliest confirmed Siberian (blythi) is 10th September, in Shetland. Perhaps some are earlier this year. Perhaps they have been overlooked in the past? It’s a bit manic since we have moved to Flamborough- birders all over my driveway today for an obliging Red-breasted Flycatcher in the sycamore across the road. Baltic Gull and Caspian Gull mania too. So apologies for lack of stuff-  I am going to have to learn to blog a bit quicker :). Hope its OK. (Red-breasted Fly is still visible in sycamore as I type- this is so cool!)

The first apparent/ candidate blythi was last Sunday 7th September at the Spurn Migration Festival. I think Pim Wolf had at least something to do with it. It was a ‘brown’ headed Lesser Whitethroat and photos of upperside of outermost tail feather appear to show it mostly gleaming white. It looked a good candidate to me. I then returned to Flamborough and found one on Monday 8th Sept. The same bird had actually be seen by Anthony Capuano on the Sunday. So 2 blythi candidates, Flamborough and Spurn-both turned up on the same day

Picking one out:

Chatting with Pim and comparing own notes. Sure there are caveats but the brush strokes seem to be that nominate curruca has whiter underparts- less contrast tween white throat and unders- often white bleeds from throat all way down central unders. Some blythi types more buff tones below with stronger contrast with marked white throat. Subtle but can catch the eye.

Head looks roughly brown headed on blythi type, blue headed on young curruca.That’s wildly overstating it but I find it a useful handle. You have to practice on curruca which can be quite pallid headed but the soft grey tone of head tends to be more uniform over head (apart from central nape versus overall browner head with more restricted ‘blue’ on blythi types. It’s a working hypothesis.

Once you see an interesting one- 3 things to look for. rattle call, wing formula and tail pattern. It’s all written up and beautifully illustrated in the Challenge series: AUTUMN.

Here was my first chance to test it this autumn. Here’s the Flamborough bird on Monday 8th September. call infrequent tack only. Tail feathers not well seen. But wing formula photographed to some useful degree.

P.S. taxonomically, blythi- Siberian Lesser Whitethroat may well be best treated as full species. So one worth looking for! Lots more info in THE BOOK!

So here’s a normal looking ‘nominate’ curruca on 4th September in me Flamborough garden. Powdery grey over head and rather white unders

4 sept european lesser whitethroat

 

and here’s the brown headed bird at Flamborough on 8th September. Looks like one to me!!

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat Flamborough 8th Sept 2014

check out the head and underparts:

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat b Flamborough 8th Sept 2014Siberian Lesser Whitethroat c Flamborough 8th Sept 2014

So the wing formula. P2 looks short- about p6/p7 or even = p7

LW 3 Flamb 8.9.14

here’s the wing of a nominate curruca at same angle, the next day (9th Sept) at Ottenby Bird Obs (thanks to the wonderful Magnus Hellstrom)

curruca Ottenbycompare

Fifteen of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

Reed Warblers- four different ones, all potential finds this autumn. I have 3 on my own find list. Just need the ‘new one’. Reed Warbler, Caspian Reed Warbler- one at Spurn or Flamborough please! ;) , Blyth’s Reed Warbler and Marsh Warbler. All covered in chapter fifteen.

For more on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

Below, a fond memory from spring 2013:

Blyth's Reed Warbler h Fetlar May 2013

Thirteen of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

Subalpine Warblers. 3 new species with wide post breeding dispersals. Plumage, calls and them wee tail patterns. And they always look beautiful.

For more on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

 

Adult male Eastern Subalpine Warbler October Martin Garner

Adult male Eastern Subalpine Warbler October Martin Garner

 

Twelve of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

Lesser Whitethroats. 3 types reach western and northern Europe each autumn. This is a Birding Frontier. Who dares wins.

For more on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

 

These are getting easier to sort out…

 

probable Siberian Lesser Whitethroat blythi, October. Martin Garner

probable Siberian Lesser Whitethroat blythi, October. Martin Garner

Eleven of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

That dynamic duo, the Common Chiffchaff and the Siberian Chiffchaff. Going back to the drawing board  a lot with this crowd!

For more on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

 

check out them ear coverts:

 

Siberian Chiffchaff by Tristan Reid http://www.theinkednaturalist.co.uk/

Siberian Chiffchaff by Tristan Reid http://www.theinkednaturalist.co.uk/

Saharan versus Western Olivaceous Warbler

and the ID challenge of Western Tree Warblers

Following on from this post, seems worth exploring the subject a little further. The most likely ID of the Fuerteventura warbler seems to be of the Saharan Olivaceous Warbler. However without field notes and only photos to go on it’s a little tricky for the outside observer. I found it intriguing as I have never seen the taxon and kind of wondered what it might get called if it turned up in NW Europe? Would I know what it was?

With multiple taxa, the old Olivaceous Warbler group is tricky one to member/ get your head around. So here is a reminder of how it plays out following the split of Western and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers:

Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca (just the one taxa)

Eastern Olivaceous warbler Iduna pallida (several taxa, those in Western Palearctic region:)

pallida

elaeica

reiseri

Nick Watmough and Grahame Walbridge made helpful comments as well as Ricardo and Andrea HERE and Nick sent some very useful comparison shots of Western Olivaceous Warbler:

Hi Martin,

I see this bird is now on the rarebirdspain website as Saharan OW and probably with good reason. I suspect the bill structure (based judged on front on photo on RBS site) excludes Western OW – please find attached a couple of shots of Western Olivaceous Warbler taken in Morocco in May 2013 (actually no more than 50km from where we saw Saharan OW).  By chance they are taken from below and show the shape of long deep-based bill quite well.  To my mind Western OW is a bigger sturdier beast that either Saharan OW or my  recollections of eleiaca (which I assume  account for all UK records?), but as ever that is hard to judge from photos.

All the best, Nick

Western Olivaceous Warbler 'opaca', Morocco, May 2913. Nick Watmough

Western Olivaceous Warbler ‘opaca’, Morocco, May 2913. Nick Watmough

Western Olivaceous Warbler 'opaca', Morocco, May 2913. Nick Watmough

Western Olivaceous Warbler ‘opaca’, Morocco, May 2913. Nick Watmough

Grahame Walbridge commented:

“The bird does not look anywhere near strong-billed enough for opaca. Lower mandible colour also looks wrong, should be entirely yellow. Pity there are no plan views (above or below) of the bill which would nail it for me.

Put simply it doesn`t look like a Western and combination of upperpart tone and lack of wing panel eliminate elaeica. By a process of elimination it must be Saharan (reiseri), though I am very uneasy at using this method in arriving at an ID! Probably safer to say “in all likelihood its a Saharan” or, something similarly tentative (unless more info forthcoming on field appearance).”

 

to compare with

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

 

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

apparent Saharan (Eastern) Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri, Fuerteventura, June 2014. Juan Sagardia

Olivaceous Warbler, but is it…

Eastern or Western?

Martin Garner

Juan Sagardia sent these photos from a couple of weeks ago. They were taken on Fuerteventura on the Canary Islands. This bird was a little over shadowed by a certain Abyssinian Roller  and also an apparent Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler.

I have seen not seen Western Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna opaca). The question is whether this individual is a Western Olly, or a ‘Western…. Eastern’. That is to say, the reiseri form of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida reiseri), which occurs in NW Africa (close to /overlapping? with Western Olivaceous).

No information on dipping tail movement (present in Eastern Olivaceous, absent in Western Olivaceous). Opinion from those who know the subject welcome. Not easy!

 

!cid_B4E74C2B-06B3-4C27-8CD8-1D5DC8E52F54@lan

!cid_E69DFE0E-6296-4A83-BCC0-51E1AA9FAD62@lan!cid_3C44CC88-1B98-4329-BF40-4544E5693AFE@lan

and in case you missed it!

 

A couple more of Juan’s shot of the stunning Abyssinian Roller and that increasing familiar celebratory X men stand! :). All photos Juan Sagardia. See his Facebook Page.

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