The Dutch Western Orphean Warbler


Western Orphean Warbler, Middelberg, Netherlands, Oct- Nov 2003.  Leo Boon

Not the most exciting view of a bird I agree!

However it certainly pressed home a little learning for me. This is a rear end view* of the Western Orphean Warbler found by Pim Wolf from his office window in Oct. 2003. (thanks to Pim and Leo). It has the same plain, colourful undertail coverts and the same kind of outer tail pattern on T6 (or R6) as the Hartlepool bird. Snap!

* years ago my YOC leader and mentor, Doug Percival threatened to write a bird ID book called ‘Arse-end Views’ as that’s how he reckoned most folk actually saw birds – as they disappeared from sight. It’s an idea!

The  finding of this Dutch Western Orphean is  a great story as Pim found the bird while staring out of his office window during a crash of the computer network! Fab way to make the most of a frustrating event. He then had to find ways to get tens of birders in and around his normal office environment to see the bird. Party on! More on the ID features of that bird here: Extract:

Western Orphean Warbler at Middelburg in October-November 2003

From 29 October to 5 November 2003, an Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis/crassirostris stayed in a business park at Middelburg, Zeeland, the Netherlands. The bird was discovered through the window of a birder’s office and identified as Western Orphean Warbler S hortensis, on the basis of the buff-coloured underparts (especially undertail-coverts; more whitish in Eastern Orphean Warbler S crassirostris), unmarked undertail-coverts without scalloping (more marked in Eastern Orphean), brownish wash on the upperparts (more silvery grey in Eastern Orphean), diffuse pale area on lower mandible (more distinctive blue-grey area in Eastern Orphean), bill shape with straight underside of lower mandible (bill longer and slightly drooping in Eastern Orphean), and large area of white on inner web of the outer tail-feather. The tail pattern on average differs between both species in the amount of white on the inner web of the outer tail-feather (often less white on inner web in Eastern Orphean); the tail pattern of the Middelburg bird fitted Western Orphean but by itself did not exclude Eastern Orphean. The bird was not conclusively sexed and/or aged; it was either an adult female (most probably) or a first-winter male. This is the first record of an Orphean Warbler for the Netherlands.   Pim A Wolf and Enno Ebels


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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2 Responses to The Dutch Western Orphean Warbler

  1. Brian S says:

    According to the new article by Lars Svensson, the tail pattern of the various orphean forms is diagnostic and that the extensive tongue of white visible on the inner web of the Dutch bird confirms it as Western.


  2. Brian S says:

    ….just read next article, sorry to repeat the comments by Lars. Brian S

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