Wednesday 28 October 2015

Crazy Pallas's Day!

This morning I was eager to get back out on the patch after the influx of Goldcrests and Firecrests. I headed out along the east side of the Otter and stopped at an area where I have had Wryneck, Pied Fly and Redstart in the past and almost immediately I was onto a Goldcrest flock and then a small warbler with obvious double wing bar and supercilium. Bingo, a Yellow-browed Warbler! I got some very poor record shots which were not great as I was always looking towards the sun and it was never that close. I was also very aware that I really did not want to 'throw away' the possibility of a Pallas's Warbler on the patch! I saw the bird briefly a couple more times as it hovered in a Pallas's-like fashion! I even heard a subdued single note call that seemed a little odd, but similar to what I have heard YBW's sometimes give and that was that, I was happy. A Firecrest was also a nice addition. I rang Doug and spent a bit more time looking for the YBW though my gut feeling was that it seemed as if it had moved through as it headed from the coast and it seemed to be on a mission heading inland. After an hour or so, I gave up and headed to the top fields where the usual Skylark and Linnet flock was present, but nothing new.

I then decided to try my luck again with the Pallas's Warbler at Orcombe Point and after about an hour or so, I got lucky with a close but brief view and even managed a photo too. Good to see Dave Stone, Dave Boult and Andrew Cunningham there too. 

Late afternoon, I decided to return to the area where I had seen the YBW in the morning, as I guess it was still niggling me just slightly that I had not seen it as well as I would have liked to. At about 15.45hrs whilst walking to the same area, I stopped to check some Goldcrests in the large Sycamores and immediately I got onto a cracking Pallas's Warbler! I watched it for a good 30 seconds whilst it hovered and showed of its lovely yellow rump! I was totally made up to find one on the patch. I rang Peter and Doug and despite staying until dusk, had no further sightings of it.  

Then of course, I began to think back to the YBW this morning and started wondering whether that bird was actually a Pallas's Warbler after all!? Still a bit confused about it to be honest, though it wouldn't be out of the question to have both YBW and Pallas's closeby. At the time, I believed it was a YBW, the jizz seemed right for YBW and also one photo seemed to show an extensive pale base to the lower mandible which is also meant to be pro YBW (though Pallas's does have some pale). However, in hindsight, the hovering and the odd call were concerning. 

For what it's worth I have added the poor photos of the morning bird but always wary that such poor images can be misleading. They have been lightened and there are a lot of shadows creating additional light. See what you think. 

Regardless, it was fantastic to find a Pallas's Warbler on the patch!

Pallas's Warbler - Orcomboe Point a great find by Dave Hopkins yesterday

 Yellow-browed Warbler 1?

Yellow-browed Warbler 2?

Yellow-browed Warbler 3?

Yellow-browed Warbler 4?

Yellow-browed Warbler 5? showing seemingly obvious pale base to lower mandible of bill


  1. Great find Chris - had a feeling you'd get one with all those sycamores. I personally wouldn't rule out pallas's on your 'presumed' photos alone though. The super looks strong yellow on my computer - does that tally with field views or is it due to lighting?

  2. Thanks Matt - Always keen to hear others thoughts. The bird never seemed to show any strong yellow in the field (different computer screens sometimes differ?) and jizz never seemed right for Pallas's, but I have to accept light was poor and views fairly brief so I may be proved wrong. Just hope the bird sticks tomorrow and maybe I see a YBW too! Thanks for your comments Matt.

  3. Superb find(s) Mr Townend! I think I'd opt for Yellow-browed over Pallas's from your pics, as the bill looks longer and less stubby than Pallas's, the head colour and shade above the supercilium appears similar to the the upperparts (isn't this darker in Pallas's) and also the eye stripe doesn't appear as dark and distinct as Pallas's. But then zooming on on the rump on pic "Presumed" Yellow-browed Warbler 2 (warbler5.jpg) it seems yellow - is this a trick of the light?

  4. Hi Chris, If you heard a good Yellow-browed Call then that's what it is. However looking at the photos it looks more like a Pallas's to me. The eyestripe - especially the lores are too dark in the shots that show it for me to be YbW the bill looks too fine and spikey, the cheeks not mottled enough for a normal YbW. The supercilium looks too broad infront of eye and appears orangey which would be very good for Pallas's also ti looks to be extending well above the bill base which again fits Pallas's. The pink in the base of the lower bill bill seems small for YbW but fits some Pallas's Warblers.