Sunday, June 3, 2012

The weather today was appalling. Heavy rain at angles approaching the horizontal kept the majority of observers indoors for the majority of the day. Happily Hugo Weigold developed an apparatus on the German island of Helgoland whilst establishing the first bird observatory there. His funnel trap meant that birds could be trapped in weather where other trapping techniques could not be used. Just such weather is a regular feature of Bardsey and the Heligoland Trap in the back garden of the Observatory means we can catch a few birds when the mist nets are not an option. Today we owe Mr Weigold quite a thank you as his trap produced both a Woodchat Shrike and a Melodious Warbler.

The first two images show today's bird and the bottom shows last year's bird of 20 May. Retained juvenile feathers show today's bird to be a first year. The black mantle, forehead and ear coverts show it to be a male, a female looking like last year's bird. The white primary bases extend beyond the primary coverts by 7mm, as would be shown by the nominate form. (c) Richard Brown

Both adult and first-year Melodious Warblers typically undergo a complete moult in the winter. Despite this, this afternoon's bird showed two distinct feather generations, with generally well worn plumage but some replaced tertials, inner secondaries and outer tail feathers. The neat, pale edges to the replaced secondaries form a little bit of a wing panel but the obvious small size and short-wing immediately rule out any confusion with other species. (c) Richard Brown


  1. Not only Mr Weigold deserves thanks, but Mr S For getting Mr B two ringing ticks in a day!! ;-)

  2. Great birds! But I feel an attack of pedantry coming on. "Heligoland" with an "i" is simply the original English name for the island, which historically has been under Danish, British and currently German control. The current German name for the island is spelt without an "i", but the German "l" is often pronounced a little as if an "i" was in there, which may explain the presence of the "i" in the English version. The local inhabitants are German speaking, but originally with a broad Frisian-type dialect, and their dialect name for the island was "Hillig Lunn". Nobody put an "i" in to describe the traps; it's just that "Heligoland trap" is an English expression, so Heligoland is spelt the English way. The Germans usually don't even name this kind of trap after Heligoland, instead calling them "Fangreusen" or similar. I know, I should get out more!!! But I know this stuff because I go birding on Heligoland/Helgoland every autumn. Great place. I must get to Bardsey sometime too.
    Dan Duff

  3. Good knowledge Dan Duff, we love a good pedant. We'll be making another three deliberate mistakes in the next month so keep spotting.

  4. Is the spelling of Uzbekistan with a he one of them?