Friday, August 26, 2011

It had already been a decent day, with two Icterine Warblers and a supporting cast of 120 Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher, when news came over the radio that another Hippolais warbler had been found, and it looked small. We quickly arrived at Plas Withy but had to wait about an hour until the bird finally showed well enough to allow confirmation that it was indeed the second Melodious Warbler of the autumn.

Having such good photos has allowed us to confirm our suspicions that this is indeed a different bird to that found at Nant a few days ago. On these views identification is straight forward with the long primary projection being roughly equal in length to the tertials. The silvery fringes to the secondaries form a distinctive panel but it should be noted that this is a first-year bird and a worn adult would have this panel much reduced. This bird frequently sat out in the open before dropping into the surrounding vegetation to grab an unsuspecting fly. The Icterine Warbler in Cristin Withy was retrapped and found to have put on four grams. (c) Richard Brown

The Melodious Warbler was also busy feeding, here taking an earwig. The Melodious basically replaces the Icterine as the yellowish breeding Hippolais in SW Europe. But identification on brief views can be tricky with the smaller size not always easy to judge (the wings of Icterines normally come in at between 73 and 82mm, those of Melodious between 62 and 71mm). Here the shorter primary projection is an obvious clue. Having both species on the island together has allowed us to get our eye in for leg colour and it has to be said there is very little difference between the two! (c) Richard Brown

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