Wednesday, 16 May 2012

You wouldn't Adam and Eve it

London's 10th Melodious Warbler skulks this morning within a stone's throw of Leyton Orient's ground.
When I lived in east London some years ago I did a regular commute by car through Leyton, queuing daily in the traffic past Leyton Orient FC's ground. On all those hundreds of occasions I doubt I ever saw anything more remarkable than a Magpie or a Mistle Thrush in such a limited urban environment. Today I stood on the pavement in the same spot, with baffled drivers and passers-by gawping at me and a small crowd of others, as London's 10th Melodious Warbler sang from within cover. What a turn-up for the record books.

The bird gives a brief view in flight as it momentarily breaks cover. Only twice did I glimpse it fully in the open.
The bird rarely showed during the limited time I had available before work, but the few glimpses and the often-heard song - a manic, rambling chatter that was far from melodious - were enough to confirm the identification. What a brilliant, out-of-the-way find by Stewart Fisher, who presumably picked it up on song. There are much better pockets of habitat not too far away, so presumably this bird was newly arrived. I missed one in Regent's Park back in 2000, and today's is only the third in over two decades in London (inland records of this southern European overshoot are unsurprisingly rare). It was my 281st species in the London recording area.

Previous London records of Melodious Warbler:
1961
12-13 August – Rye Meads/Nazeing
1964 10 August – Navestock
1973 20 September – Romford
1981 26 May – West Thurrock
1983 11 June – Ruxley GP
1987 30 April-2 May – Croham Hurst GC
1990 5 May – Barn Elms Res
2000 23 August – Regent’s Park
2004 1-2 October – Fairlop CP*

* No description received of this bird by the London Records Committee but it was accepted by the Essex Birdwatching Society (Fairlop CP falls in both recording areas) and published in The Birds of Essex by Simon Wood (Helm, 2007). See also London Bird Report 56: 203.

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