A controversial warbler

So there we were, about a month ago now, stood with our backs arched starring into the canopy of the trees draping the Garrison on the Isles of Scilly. We were looking for the reported Arctic Warbler. Amid calls of ‘Here it is’, ‘it moved left’, ‘Yes it’s an Arctic!’ ‘That’s not an Arctic!’ and miscellaneous other contradicting information; it all got a bit confusing.

I regrouped the team on our tour and discussed with them what I thought we were looking at. Others may have been looking at something different. The following isn’t meant to be contentious just an honest judgement of the bird WE were watching. I’m sure there probably had been or even was an Arctic Warbler there … it’s just I didn’t see it.

The bird we saw and I photographed did not have tundra green upperparts like an Arctic Warbler it was greyer; nor did it have an endless supercillium, but it was prominent. It did however have silky white underparts, pale legs and a nicely coloured bill. I saw a suspicion of a wing-bar … but I think it was probably a Willow Warbler. What does the eastern race yakutensis look like?

2015 10 12 Willow Warbler The Garrison St Mary's Isles of Scilly_Z5A0860 2015 10 12 Willow Warbler The Garrison St Mary's Isles of Scilly_Z5A0890 2015 10 12 Willow Warbler The Garrison St Mary's Isles of Scilly_Z5A0893


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Nov 2015


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