This blog is about my birding exploits, which mainly take place in the Weymouth/Portland area, in Dorset. Will also include stuff from elsewhere, plus some other critters too. Hope you enjoy. All photographs are © Brett Spencer, unless indicated otherwise. The above image is of a Siberian Rubythroat, taken in Holland in 2016.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Time To Reacquaint Myself

Lets start off with yesterday. Bob and Tricia kindly allowed access to their garden, so that Ian and Luke could attempt to trap the Siberian Lesser Whitethroat. Here, Ian Dodd takes up the story.

The Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca complex comprises a number of clades that are not fully resolved, although the authors of a recent publication proposed that the names althaea, blythi, curruca, halimodendri, margelanica and minula should be used for the major ones  (Olsson U et al.  Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2013  67  72-85).  The nominate curruca is the form known to breed in the UK and the occurrence of a couple of other forms, blythi and halimodendri, are rare, mainly occurring in autumn.  In Dorset, winter records of Lesser Whitethroat are extremely rare.  On 2nd December 2012, Brett found a Lesser Whitethroat in his garden in Weymouth, but on the views he obtained, was unable to name it to form. Amazingly, not too far away, Bob and Tricia had found a Lesser Whitethroat in their garden on 11th January 2013. Our attention was drawn to the presence of this over-wintering bird visiting their well stocked feeding station. After a visit by Brett to confirm the identity and obtain field photographs, which confirmed it to be the same bird as that seen in his garden (see photo below), we visited the garden on 16th February to try to trap the bird and see whether we could get more information on it’s possible origins.  The visit was successful, the bird was trapped within 3 minutes of erecting a mist net. It was ringed, processed, photographed and then released. The bird had returned to the feeding station within 10 minutes of release.

On the views obtained in the field, it was tentatively identified as a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca blythi.

The biometrics of the trapped bird, which was not assigned an age, were recorded as follows:

Wing   66 mm
Tail   52 mm
Bill  12.5 mm
2nd primary  = 6/7 (unmeasured estimation)
Weight   10.5 g

1st primary   3 mm > p.c.
2nd        - 3 mm
3rd           longest
4th           longest
5th           - 1 mm
6th        - 3 mm

Showing the outer tail pattern, confirming it to be of eastern origin. © Ian Dodd

Showing the spread wing detail. © Ian Dodd

It is thought to be significant that the colour of the iris was clearly much paler (cream-grey) than the rest of the eye (this is evident in some of the photographs) and perhaps give some clue as to the age of the bird.

In addition, three contour feathers were accidentally shed during processing and these will be sent for DNA analysis, which will hopefully fully confirm it's subspecific identification.

We would like to thank Bob and Tricia for drawing our attention to the bird in the first instance and for being such wonderful hosts.

Thanks Ian for your input on this bird.

Now back to today. It's been along time, 25 years to be exact, since I last saw a Pied-billed Grebe. So, with one having taken up residence in Somerset, I couldn't resist paying it a visit.


Pied-billed Grebe at the brilliant Ham Walls RSPB reserve.

Also here were singles of.....

Great White Egret.

And Marsh Harrier.

Earlier in the day, connected with 2 of the Hawfinches in the cemetery at Bruton.



Hawfinch.

And finally, 1 more to add to my 10km square photo year list was this....

Drake Pochard at Radipole Lake on Friday.

1 comment:

Steve Carey said...

Fantastic Capture of the Pied-billed Grebe mate