Mystery Warbler

Still is a bit

This one I mean:

This one was and still is perplexing. Seen and photographed on Linosa on 4th November 2011. We all headed off in a wrong direction on the ID as it looked small (Chiffchaff nearby)  and thought it was a Chiffchaff. ID revised later to Willow Warbler with helpful input from others. Though unlike ANY Willow Warbler I have seen before and more reminiscent of the plumage of some of the various types of brown and white Chiffchaff.  Never called. Few more pics:

Brown and white Willow Warbler, Linosa, 4th Nov. 2011 (above 3 photos) © Michele Viganò.

In the field noted – “saw Miki’s photos on back of his camera of an amazing looking brown and white Chiff-type.  Thought he was showing me a photo from somewhere else! No, just up the road!  Ottavio and I legged straight off bird soon appeared in chosen Tamarisk.  WOW.  Vivid broad and long white supercilium set off  in definite brownish looking crown and upper parts (with slight grey cast). Rump quite the richest saturated brown.  Basically  cold white underparts with slight warm buff wash sides of face and mottled ear coverts and onto breast sides and again on undertail coverts.  Primaries looked/felt slightly longer than average Chiffchaff 🙂  Pale off-white edges joined dull tips to the greater coverts, obvious whitish fringes to tertials creating something of a white panel.  Fringes to primaries at least along part of the length vivid white.  Bill mostly black and spiky legs overall dark blackest at the top becoming ‘dark Rock Pipit’ with a weak reddish-brown tone – paler towards the feet.”

Brown and white Willow Warbler, Linosa, 4th Nov. 2011  © Igor Maiorano. Shoes that primary projection a bit better.

for comparison from Israel in October, thanks to Yoav:

rather brown and white Willow Warbler, Ashdod, Israel 15th Oct 2011 © Yoav Perlman

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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4 Responses to Mystery Warbler

  1. Phil Hyde says:

    Hi Martin,
    Never seen it in the field, but having “revised” it just in case, it looks uncannily like Mountain Chiffchaff. Egg on face anticipated…

    Phil Hyde

  2. Dan Houghton says:

    Can Willow Warblers really have legs that dark? The primary projection also looks on the short side. It’s certainly an interesting looking thing…

  3. Mark Doveston says:

    I had an encounter with a brown and white Willow Warbler on my patch in the Bradford (West Yorks) area. It was mid September and I heard it persistantly calling but when I saw it I thought it was a Chiffchaff so I kept on looking for a Willow Warbler (keen to get the late date for the local report), except the brown job kept calling like a Willow Warbler. I watched the brown WW for a bit to see it “disappear” behind a shrub. I went searching and flushed it from the ground. On closer inspection I found a nest with eggs. The eggs were those of a Willow Warbler and this helped settle the debate I was having with myself.

    Mark Doveston

  4. Niklas Andersson says:

    Here is a willow warbler in the spring:
    I have seen a picture by an willow in the autumn that approach this one.. but i can’t find the ID of the picture……

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