Friday, 27 September 2013

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat?, Seacliff

This week has been frustrating bird-wise. I have dashed off to the coast after work on several days to enjoy the amazing fall of Yellow-browed Warblers that have arrived from Asia. Of the 8, 10 and 7 reports over the last 3 days in Lothian I have managed to see precisely none. Site high totals this week have been Barns Ness and Whitesands 6, and Torness, Thorntonloch, Skateraw and Scoughall all with 2 apiece. So, somewhere between 14 and 25 birds perhaps. The sites have tended to be very quiet in the late afternoon and early evening periods that I have managed to visit and it has left me wondering whether the birds have moved on already given the improvement in the weather since Wednesday morning - or whether they are jet-lagged and keeping a central Asian time clock?...

Underside of tail just visible before it disappears into the sea buckthorn
Today I'm pretty sure that I did hear a Yellow-browed Warbler briefly at Seacliff but could not locate - there is quite an area of sycamores to search. Instead the highlight was this Lesser Whitethroat which looked to me to be of the Siberian subspecies blythi although it is not possible to be really sure without much better views combined with DNA testing most likely. Anyway it was a bright brown above (including crown) rather than the more normal dull tones of our subspecies with great contrast between the throat and the flanks. In addition it certainly appeared to have white outer tail feathers with dark shafts. None of these features have come out well in the photos unfortunately. In terms of call a blackcap-like 'tack' but no distinctive churr heard. So one that I think I should pop back and try for again.

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