Paddyfield Warbler

Acro Agro or…

Shetland’s Paddyfield Colony?

see here for a seemingly different bird at the same site, earlier this month:

http://www.shetlandnature.net/2010/08/10/paddyfield-warbler-a-jammy-start-to-the-autumn/

Found yesterday by intrepid Rory T (also of Burrafirth Syke’s fame), poor views and a less than striking example of the species, has caused considerable consternation. Mike Penno sent me a few pics last night which suggested to my eyes at least something better than Reed-maybe Blythe’s Reed.

A few seconds on an Angelica stem, in full view, today gave Robbie Brookes an opportunity to get the photos below. Here its looks more clearly like a 1st winter Paddyfield. But its easy for me to say!! Observers will simply not have had the kind of views we can enjoy in these photos.

This is good example whereby identification in the field is, in reality a lot harder than appreciated from the luxury of a laptop. Anyone can be  an  expert when it comes to ‘internet identification’!

In the photos, the bird does show clearly short wings (looks like 6 primary tips), warm toned uppers, rufous wash to rump and especially big (too big for any Reed) flaring super. The reason it looks a little less convincing – the greyish wash of super behind eye makes it less striking, dark lores and supraloral (dark line above supercilium) rather weak looking. The dark centred, contrasty tertials take the possibility of Blythe’s Reed out of the frame. Observers struggled with the tail not looking long enough in the field for typical Paddyfield. Greyish iris is some pics and fresh plumage (only slightly worn) plumage suggest first winter – though not always easy.

Despite reams that have been written about plain acros (acrocephalus warblers = sharp or pointy-headed warbler), especially the vagrants, can be very tricksy. Confirmation of the identification of this bird has proved awkward since it was found.

Big well done (and  little envy!) to the guys who stuck with the process.

Photos, by top photographer and Unst resident, Robbie Brookes at Halligarth.

23rd August 2010

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About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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2 Responses to Paddyfield Warbler

  1. Mark Wilkinson says:

    Hi Martin,

    congrats on the informative website, and good luck with the Shetland adventure.

    That’s a weird Paddy by the way, never seen one with such a “diffuse” super, or one with such a greyish wash to the rear super either, definitely one to learn from.

    Greetings from Nijmegen,

    Mark

  2. Mark Reeder says:

    Wow – two birds in the same garden a couple of weeks apart.
    Completely agree your comment re Internet ‘experts’. The Quendale bird in 2007 took Rob and I over an hour to put together the jigsaw of pieces we were able to get on it during very brief views. Despite our gut feeling, that it was Paddyfield, based on just a two second flight view, we aired on the side of caution (always wise not to get too carried away during Autumn in the Northern Isles) and stuck it out – typically as soon as others arrived it started to show well probably making everyone else wonder why it had taken us so long. I suspect this bird would not have been quite so straightforward.
    Nice run for young Rory, hope the Unst domination doesn’t carry on too long 🙂

    Great Blog by the way Martin – makes much more sense than that rubbish featuring pastry based savouries!

    Mark

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