29 September 2013

A couple of migrants

With the number of Autumn migrants in Orkney starting to increase Colin, Stan and myself headed for one of the ringing sites on Deerness yesterday afternoon to see what might be about.

There had been reports earlier in the day that Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) had been seen at this particular site and having already missed out on seeing one on Burray earlier in the day I was keen to see this particluar species as it would be a new life list species for me as well as a new ringing species should we happen to catch any.

The Yellow-browed Warbler breeds in Asia, East from the Urals through to China and mainly winters in the tropical South-East of Asia with small numbers appearing in Western Europe. In Orkney it is classed as an uncommon Autumn passage migrant, accidental in Spring.

This small warbler is about the same size as a Wren (9.5-10 cm) and weights in the region of 4-9g.

It has green upperparts with off-white underparts, a bold yellow stripe over each eye, prominent yellow double wing bars, black and white pattern on the tertials and long supercilia.

At first it was pretty quiet with hardly a bird to be heard. The clucking of a Blackbird, a few Golden Plover flying overhead and the churring of a Wren. After a while we started to hear a number of Yellow-browed Warblers calling and we could see them flitting about in the tops of the trees.

A check of the nets and we had caught one, giving me my first opportunity to see this smart little bird close up and also to ring it.

On the next net check we had caught a second one which Stan got to ring. It was interesting to see that the second bird looked a bit duller than the first, as can be seen in the photos below.

Yellow-browed Warbler - note the yellow eye stripe and double wing bars
Yellow-browed Warbler - note the duller plumage compared to the first bird
Yellow-browed Warbler
Further net checks only produced a single Chiffchaff, so a fairly quiet afternoon.

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