Monday, 13 September 2010

Holme run

Arctic Warbler at Holme today: note the prominent supercilium,
greenish upperparts and rather stout, long and orange-toned bill.
In strong light the bill appeared almost wholly orange. This image shows
the combination of pale supercilium and dark eyestripe to better effect.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen an Arctic Warbler – Finland in June 2004, to be precise – so today I broke off early from my planned morning itinerary around north London to take advantage of a bird making an extended stay at Holme Bird Observatory, Norfolk.

I reached the obs at about 1.30pm, got a permit and joined the small gathering to discover the bird had just been lost to view. Fortunately, after half an hour it was refound nearby and showed intermittently for the next 20 minutes or so, during which time it moved around the pines in a surprisingly sluggish and furtive manner for a Phylloscopus warbler. When it emerged from among the tangles of branches, the narrow wing-bar, prominent long supercilium, dark eyestripe and mainly orange bill, together with its relatively large size, combined for a very characteristic jizz.

Distinctive an Arctic may be, but it will be interesting to see what happens with British records if the proposed split of this species into perhaps three gains wider acceptance (see BirdForum for discussion and references). I’m not yet aware of how the three taxa might be separated in the field, but the Holme bird, along with a number of others, was trapped and ringed; perhaps measurements will confirm it as nominate borealis, which is said to be the form occurring in Britain.

Among my fellow warbler observers, I was amazed to bump into Stefan Zaremba, possibly Lincoln City’s only Vancouver-based supporter. I first met Stefan on a trip to Armenia 10 years ago, and last saw him in October 2003 on Scilly, where he was busy adding North American birds to his Western Palearctic list! On the way home I dropped Stefan off in Hunstanton as the rain started to fall heavily; we were both glad to have gone for the warbler when we did.

Even in a rear-end glimpse the bird appears pretty distinctive. Note
the ever-obvious supercilium and optional leg-iron.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...