30 April 2016

Eastern or Western Bonelli's Warbler at Nanjizal???

With the winter weather taking its toll on the vegetation, Nanjizal still has a rather wintry feel and the leaf must be a month behind normal. Spring migration has also been very slow, with only a couple of periods when birds arrived in any numbers. The best arrival so far was over 21st-23rd April when a decent south-easterly wind and rain dropped a few birds in, primarily Willow Warblers and Blackcaps. Virtually all the birds were very light and obviously finding the cold, wet weather hard going.

One unexpected surprise for Kester though was a Bonelli's Warbler (of some sort) caught on the 23rd. This bird didn't look like the birds he had caught before in Cyprus, but similar to birds he'd handled in Greece. It also didn't look quite right for the milky-tea coloured birds from Spain. As you can see below, the obvious pale edges to the greater coverts and tertials are very fresh and not worn or bleached. If pale edges are a feature of eastern birds, it looks like it's a plumage feature rather than relating to the age of the feathers. The bird's long-billed appearance (more reminiscent of Western BW (Phylloscopus bonelli) than Eastern BW (Phylloscopus orientalis)) was maybe exaggerated by a few feathers missing from the top of the bill. Luckily the bird did leave behind a feather though, so it'll be interesting to see what the DNA comes back as!

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