Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dusky warbler, I'm having it!

While checking a garden on Aranmore a few weeks back I heard a few lesser throat like chak calls. With out really time to think about the identity, a small warbler popped up infront of me. I could only see the head but I immediately thought dusky warbler. After a stand off, I tried to move slightly to see the whole bird, but it dropped out of view. I tried a chakking a bit and the bird popped up again, but once more, only the head was visible. While waiting for it to re-appear, I scribbled down some notes. Unfortunately, the bird never showed again, only calling a few times from thick cover a few hours later.
It was one I thought would probably be best forgetting about, but I felt the distinctive head and call combined were enough to work with. The notes I scribbled down about the super being sharply defined and ending infront of the bill match all my notes and photos of dusky from Asia, plus everything on a google search. Chiffchaffs' super is more diffuse and usually extends over the the bill, plus the call is completely different. Raddes', although never really thought of with this bird falls down on these features also.

 Dusky warbler from Rudong in May 2013. The head is a little blurred but the well defined super is still obvious. It is not a feature mentioned in any field guides I have, but is in the advanced bird id handbook.
Its good enough for me and I'm having it!

Chiffchaff from Tory Island, 2012, the diffuse super extending over the bill.

Raddes warbler, Beidehe 2010, just like the chiff, diffuse super continues over the bill.

Monday, October 14, 2013


 I was on Aranmore Island off the north west coast for the last 10 days or so hoping for a good selection of migrants. I had planned to spend my time on Tory Island again, but the small island had 3-5 birders out there daily during my planned visit so I decided to find somewhere else. Tory is easily doable in a day by one person, Aranmore was a different story altogether! It was tough work, and I really only had 2 good days of migration. The first produced this wryneck along with a common rosefinch, yellow-browed warbler, pied and 3 spotted flycatchers with a back up of phyloscs. Some north west winds towards the end of my stay produced some great sea-watching, flocks of skuas, a single sabines and little gull. Geese also arrived in big numbers with a single pink-footed and 4 large Canada geese amongst several hundred barnacles.
 The wryneck showed really well most days during its 5 day stay, on the final evening I saw it, it fell asleep so close I wasn't able to focus the camera on it!

 I spent a lot of time sketching and photographing it, the island was very quite most of the time and it was great to have the diversion.