Saturday, 16 November 2013

Orphean Warbler in Wales

I was in France when the 2012 Western Orphean Warbler visited Hartlepool so missed it and didn't really expect the opportunity to see another on for the next 10 years or so based on the previous records (see below). However, surprising news coming out from Wales got me a bit excited... A 'Lesser Whitethroat' in a garden for a few days got re-identified based on photos put out on the internet... Orphean Warbler sp...

After work on Friday Dave and I took a drive down to deepest darkest south Wales in order to be in the first 40 people to be allowed access into the garden to look for the Orphean Warbler. Our plan worked and we were in-situ looking for the warbler as it got 'light'. It was a pretty overcast morning to be honest but was milder than expected. Cetti's Warbler song blasted out from nearby as we waited for the target bird which was nice to hear.

After a while of looking at Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinch and Robin a warbler was sighted - the next half hour or so was spent trying to see the bird properly/at all, through the crowd of people and the vegetation (mainly apple trees full of fruit, and leaves). Eventually, with a bit of perseverance we both managed to get ok views of the bird, then just as we'd decided to leave the garden to let others have a chance it hopped out into the open where it sat eating at an apple - a brilliant side-on view. We then left pretty happy.

So the bird, Eastern or Western Orphean? I'm thinking Western Orphean based on main plumage features and an adult due to the eye and a female based on the head pattern/colouration, though need to look at what a late-autumn/early-winter male may look like at this time of year. I'll have to do some more research...

I think this record would relate to the 7th British record of 'Orphean Warbler'. If racially assigned to 'Western' it would be the third Western Orphean after the following:

1. 1955 Dorset (Western)
2. 1967 Cornwall
3. 1981 Scilly
4. 1982 Northest Scotland
5. 1991 Cornwall
6. 2012 Cleveland (Western) - Pending

No photos I'm afraid, the best I've seen so far are here by Paul Rowe.

I wonder what else is lurking about out there in peoples gardens/parks...?

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