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AJDH Friday 11th May 2007 06:05

Warbler Eastern Saudi Arabia
 
I took the following pictures late in the evening last night and I'm at a loss to identify the bird. At first I thought it was a graceful prinia because all I could see was a wagging tail. Then as the bird showed itself my thoughts went to scrub warbler but there's a lack of stripes. A friend thought maybe cettis or savis's and one other more positive suggestion is Eastern Olivaceous. Can you help?

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y20..._7063_800w.jpg

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y20..._7066_800w.jpg

Frenchy Friday 11th May 2007 09:03

Hi

I think its an Upchers Warbler.

Its clearly a hippolais warbler for several reasons, including head and bill shape and a lack of a supercillium beyond the eye.
The wagging tail is a good field character of Upchers, and the apparent size and shape look good for that species as well. The tail looks contrastingly dark, although i accept that it is in shadow and therefore looks darker than it really is. The pale edges to the primaries and secondaries are a well known feature of Olive-tree Warbler, but are also present on many Upchers. Actually, the ID of these two species in autumn may be more tricky than first thought, after the confusing bird on Shetland last August.

AJDH Friday 11th May 2007 12:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frenchy (Post 885676)
Hi

I think its an Upchers Warbler.

Its clearly a hippolais warbler for several reasons, including head and bill shape and a lack of a supercillium beyond the eye.
The wagging tail is a good field character of Upchers, and the apparent size and shape look good for that species as well. The tail looks contrastingly dark, although i accept that it is in shadow and therefore looks darker than it really is. The pale edges to the primaries and secondaries are a well known feature of Olive-tree Warbler, but are also present on many Upchers. Actually, the ID of these two species in autumn may be more tricky than first thought, after the confusing bird on Shetland last August.

Thank you Frenchy, this is a very hard bird to identify, everyone I speak to comes up with a different answer. I'll pass on your comments to my more learned (than me) friends.

James Lowther Friday 11th May 2007 12:31

I agree with Frenchy that it's definitely a Hippolais warbler, that means it isn't scrub warbler, graceful prinia, savi's or cetti's warbler.
That's about as far as my "expertise" can take you i'm afraid, but upcher's warbler seems reasonable to me..

Edward woodwood Friday 11th May 2007 12:59

Upcher's

the tail-waving is an excellent starting point in the field. It also appears quite bulky as Upcher's / OTW. Long time since i saw an Upcher's but i do remember being struck in the field by the tail looking quite dark at times.

Howard King Friday 11th May 2007 13:01

How about Marsh or Basra Reed Warbler - according to AJ it was small enough for him to think it was a scrub warbler at first even flicked its tail a lot - Upchers are far to big and are far more grey all over at this time of the year saw several today actually here in Bahrain and tail is much longer and square cut.
see for Upchers
>http://hawar-islands.com/April_07-21...erswarbler.htm
see for Olivaceous
>http://hawar-islands.com/April_07-21...livacousa3.htm

Frenchy Friday 11th May 2007 13:22

The undertail coverts appear to be too short to be an acrocephalus warbler, and i ca't recall ever seeing a Marsh wagging its tail around. I also think the pale fringes to the secondaries and tertials go dome way to ruling out Olivaceous, although it would be nice to see the tertials and the bird not in shade.

Jane Turner Friday 11th May 2007 13:43

No its definitely a Hippo. Upchers looks like a good shout, though Olive-tree and Eastern Olly need careful separation

Was it wagging or waving its tail?

Jane Turner Friday 11th May 2007 13:46

Doesn't appear to have the huge PP projection and blotchy ut coverts that you'd expect on on Olive-tree Warbler either.

lostinjapan Friday 11th May 2007 14:25

I think the color of the bird can be explained by the fact it was taken in the evening. The sun at that time tends to turn even the greyest birds brown.

I don't think the size of the bird is mentioned, but it is apparent from the photo that it is not the sizeof a prinia. I think only the Prinia's behaviour was referred to.

Upcher`s in Saudia Arabia always had the same wagging tail habit, though I have seen Olive-Tree and Olivaceous do it too.

No point in me re-iterating plumage features that have already been pointd out. The lower mandible looks orange..can`t remember if that is good for Upcher's or not though, but the structure of the bill dosn't look big enough for Olive-tree, but might fall within the range of Upcher's or Olivaceous.

However, I guess this is an Upcher's, certainly a 'hippolais' and not any other family, such as acro's, or scrub warblers..certainly way too big for the latter.

Nice pics once again

Sean
Hiroshima

JANJ Friday 11th May 2007 16:23

Yes Sean all pale lower mandible (if that´s what you mean) is good for Upcher´s - and Eastern OW of course. Difficult light and view but a Hippolais it is - and the 'tail behavior' sound good and so does the broadness of the tail in the first image (not meaning that this instant view in just one image would be diagnostic for Upcher´s (the darkness of surely darker due to being in shadow as refered to by Frenchy.

As mentioned by D.I.M. Wallace for Upcher´s
'An obvious upward flick, even partial cock, developed by slight spreading of the outer tail feathers and a sideways twich (but not the full 'fan and wave' which has been described from birds in northeast Africa and the Middle East'

Also some other Upcher´s from Bahrain Bird Report 2007.

http://hawar-islands.com/April_07-21...rswarbler1.htm

http://hawar-islands.com/April_07-21...rswarbler3.htm

AJDH Friday 11th May 2007 16:32

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jane Turner (Post 885846)
No its definitely a Hippo. Upchers looks like a good shout, though Olive-tree and Eastern Olly need careful separation

Was it wagging or waving its tail?

Sorry for the late reply, I've been out trying to get another picture but to no avail. The tail was being flicked up and down and the bird was definitely smaller than some sparrows that were in the same bush for a time.

Hope this helps.

hannu Friday 11th May 2007 17:05

Also dark eye refers to Hippo.
The bird is either Upcher's Warbler or Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, but rather impossible to say surely from these pic angles. These species have too much similarities and differences are rather marginal.

Jane Turner Friday 11th May 2007 17:07

Upchers is famous for swinging its tail about like a Shrike. Waving it from side to dide, not just cocking it.

hannu Saturday 12th May 2007 07:32

The first AJ's pic shows us bird's pattern of outermost tail feather and the shape of the pattern refers either Upcher's Warbler or Eastern Olivaceous Warbler ssp pallida. There seems to be clear hollow on the outer web of t6. However, the amount of white and wide and diffuse white inner web on t6 refers better to Upcher's. That habit of semi-fanning its tail (like in first pic) and waving it around as it is poorly fixed (2nd pic) refers also Upcher's.

Howard King Saturday 12th May 2007 10:47

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frenchy (Post 885829)
The undertail coverts appear to be too short to be an acrocephalus warbler, and i ca't recall ever seeing a Marsh wagging its tail around. I also think the pale fringes to the secondaries and tertials go dome way to ruling out Olivaceous, although it would be nice to see the tertials and the bird not in shade.

I recieved this message from an UAE birder on the subject

We saw 130 Marsh Warblers in the UAE today and this bird looks fairly similar. However it appears to lack the olive green upperparts and buff-yellow underparts of Marsh and perhaps has a slightly-too-prominent supercilium. I would therefore go with Reed (Eastern / fuscus presumably) but for me the light does make it impossible to say for certain. Rump colour (if noted) would be another clue (should be warm brown in Reed at this time of year but more or less concolorous with mantle in Marsh).

Blyth's Reed is another possibility but it appears to lack the 'flattened head' of that species, and also the dark tip to the lower mandible.

Howard King Saturday 12th May 2007 12:04

Quote:

Originally Posted by hannu (Post 886478)
The first AJ's pic shows us bird's pattern of outermost tail feather and the shape of the pattern refers either Upcher's Warbler or Eastern Olivaceous Warbler ssp pallida. There seems to be clear hollow on the outer web of t6. However, the amount of white and wide and diffuse white inner web on t6 refers better to Upcher's. That habit of semi-fanning its tail (like in first pic) and waving it around as it is poorly fixed (2nd pic) refers also Upcher's.

You might like to check out the following page - I have toned down the sun on AJ's pictures and have these images together with shots of both Upchers and Olivaceous for comparison - see what you think
> http://www.hawar-islands.com/blog/id_stub.php

Ghostly Vision Saturday 12th May 2007 16:08

Hi there,

Bizarre that so many Marsh have been seen in UAE by people who identify this as an Acrocephalus?

Was in neighbouring Kuwait three weeks ago and so Upcher's, Olivaceous and Sykes's warblers are all fresh in my memory. I believe these are the only three likely species for the photo, on range alone.

Everything has been said before, but the colour is misleading due to the evening light.

The dark tail with contrasting pale outers, overall contrasty wings and description of the tail flicking all point squarely to Upcher's. he bill looks far too big for either of the other two species.

Olivaceous only ever dips its tail from the horizontal downwards - this action is very distinctive.

HTH

Sean

Howard King Sunday 13th May 2007 01:56

From the replies I have had from birders on the MEB (middle east) network only a few believe this to be Upcher's - Olivaceous is the popular choice but not the only one. On EBN - I have recieved an even greater variety of species for consideration - many from of these replies are from highly respected birders. The problem with these photographs is the light and the fact that vegetation obscures some of the key identifying species - I personally think it is indeed a Hippolais but I don't think I can commit beyond that and I have not ruled out Booted warbler either. AJ has sent me some other images of the bird in question but they are not quality pictures hence I will put them up on the following page
http://www.hawar-islands.com/blog/id_stub.php
see also for Booted Warbler http://www.orientalbirdimages.org/se...ID=&pagesize=1
Status of species locally - Upcher's, Booted, Marsh, Garden, Reed, Whitethroats and even the odd Willow are passing at the moment, but Olivaceous a migrant summer breeding species are most numerous.

When I spoke to AJ he told me "the tail was being flicked up and down" so tomorrow morning I will go out into my garden and watch the Olivaceous warblers breeding there to observe any tail movements.

Th_SQ Sunday 13th May 2007 08:32

Upcher's is my vote also. Among other things, the spacing of primaries and tertials fits Upcher's (almost perfectly).

Frenchy Sunday 13th May 2007 09:25

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard King (Post 886546)
I recieved this message from an UAE birder on the subject

We saw 130 Marsh Warblers in the UAE today and this bird looks fairly similar. However it appears to lack the olive green upperparts and buff-yellow underparts of Marsh and perhaps has a slightly-too-prominent supercilium. I would therefore go with Reed (Eastern / fuscus presumably) but for me the light does make it impossible to say for certain. Rump colour (if noted) would be another clue (should be warm brown in Reed at this time of year but more or less concolorous with mantle in Marsh).

Blyth's Reed is another possibility but it appears to lack the 'flattened head' of that species, and also the dark tip to the lower mandible.

But your UAE birder fails to say why this bird clearly lacks the long undertail coverts of an acro. This is a much better feature to look at on a bird thats partially in shadow and in strange light.

I'd be happy to say that this could be an Eastern Olivaceous (i've been struggling to find pics of EOW in spring - best i could do was http://www.fyldebirdclub.org/images/14eoliler.jpg), but the apparent size ond fullness of the tail still suggests Upcher's to me. The description of the tail movement is slightly ambiguous.

In the photos on your web page, its interesting that the tail looks contrastingly darker, almost blackish in all of the photos it is visible in, especially the head on shot second from bottom where the tail does not appear to be in shadow. Its hard to see the tertial spacing, and i found this to be an unreliable feature anyway, with many EOW showing the classic Upcher's spacing. Just the overall jizz of the bird suggests Upcher's to me.

We can rule out Booted Warbler on the seven primaries beyond the tertials (i think Booted has 5-6) and the prominent super in front of the eye and lacking behind the eye. PLus the jizz would seem wrong for that species. But then i suppose you have to think about Sykes's Warbler which i've never seen...

IMO this is almost certainly an Upcher's, but can't 100% rule out Eastern Olivaceous. Its certainly one of the two however, and is clearly not an acrocephalus.

Howard King Sunday 13th May 2007 11:52

I agree with you its a Hippolais - quite a few mails suggested (both through MEB and EBN) an acrocephalus but several went for Cetti's.
However I have a slight advantage I have seen both Upchers and Olivaceous within the last few days and spoken to Adrian about size plus have had the measuring stick out - I now think its could be a Booted Warbler cause it sure doesn't look like the others that I have been looking at both in the hand (ringing) and in the bush so to speak. The overall jizz is all wrong for either Olivaceous or Upcher's so I am going against the flow and sticking my head on the block I say Booted for this one.

Jane Turner Sunday 13th May 2007 11:54

Howard, Booted is a small neat tidy bird, confusable with a Phylloscopus!

This is a big stonking Hippo!

Th_SQ Sunday 13th May 2007 12:38

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard King (Post 887392)
I say Booted for this one.

Primary projection alone rules out Booted, IMHO.

Ghostly Vision Sunday 13th May 2007 13:40

Bizarre.

The fact that some people are suggesting Cetti's shows that people can be wrong.

As I said in my previous post, I have very recent experience of spring Sykes's, EOW and Upcher's.

Sykes's and EOW look incredibly similar to each other; the first Sykes's I saw was identified retrospectively on call, and had been down as EOW for three days.

This bird clearly has the correct wing structure for Upcher's, and in all photo's of the uppertail it looks dark with a narrow whitish outer tail feather. It has an enormous bill and is clearly a big bird. Olivaceous tends to have grey/bluish legs, Sykes's tends to have pinker legs (one bird we saw had quite bright pink legs); This bird does seem to have pinkish legs, which is at odds with the dark legs of Upcher's - to me the only anomalous feature.

Tail movements are pretty unique; the on Upcher's I saw I didn't see it, but Upcher's wings its tail. Sykes's dips its tail both above and below the horizontal, and also seems to flick it to the sides. Olivaceous dips it repeatedly down below the horizontal. Botted seems o have a nervous sideways jerk of its tail (from personal observations).

In summary, I'd say Upchers. If it's proven not to be, then Sykes's is the second probability.

Sean

JANJ Sunday 13th May 2007 13:51

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jane Turner (Post 887395)
Howard, Booted is a small neat tidy bird, confusable with a Phylloscopus!

This is a big stonking Hippo!

Yes - that´s the impression you get from these pic. Furthermore the obvious pale edginge to the secondaries ('wingpanel') is an elaeica (EOW), languida (Upcher´s) olivetorum (Olive-tree) and icterina Icterine) character. The bill gives the impression of being non caligata (Booted) or rama (Sykes´s) slender - and notice that the upper mandible is obviously down-curved near the tip, which you don´t see in that fashion in Booted or Sykes´s. Regarding the lower mandible pattern - all pale versus with a dark 'spot' at - or near the tip - usually all pale in elaeica and languida but with a 'spot' in caligata and rama - but not always in these two. One other character visible in the hand or in good images is how the emarginations of the primaries falls on the closed wing - at level or slightly behind the longest tip of the tertial (or secondarie tips) in elaeica and languida - well inside for caligata and rama which can be seen in Howards linked birds. But can we see that in AJ,s bird? I have myself some promblems seeing this for certain. However the above mentioned characters speaks negative for Booted or Sykes´s. The legs on the subject bird looks pale reddish-brown with darker grey feet - that would corresponde well with Booted - hence the name. ;)

JanJ

AJDH Sunday 13th May 2007 16:12

Regarding the size of the bird, I got the impression it was quite small. Here's a link to a graceful prinia in the same bush. Maybe the branches etc against this bird will help in scaling the questionable warbler.

http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/dat..._6900_800w.jpg

Frenchy Sunday 13th May 2007 17:52

This is getting good!

After checking, looks like i was wrong on the number of primaries beyond the tertials on Booted. They can have seven. Moral: always check more than one picture!

However, i had a feeling that Booted Warbler can show almost a small notch to the tail, whereas the mystery bird clearly has a slightly rounded tail. See these two Booteds (they are autumn birds but i don't think it should make a difference for this) which seem to support this.

http://www.scillybirding.co.uk/images/Bootedwarbler.jpg

http://www.birdsireland.com/images/2...st/booted2.jpg

Hippolais warblers have taken up many trees worth of ID papers and correspondance in the journals. They can be a very tricky group! I'm going to have to resort to the unscientific view that it just looks too long for a Booted, with a large bill that has a completely pale lower mandible. Booted usually has a dark tip to the lower Check out:

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?im...3D10%26hl%3Den


Athough these ones do have a completely pale lower mandible...

http://www.kolkatabirds.com/bootedwarbler8cf.jpg

http://www.scillybirding.co.uk/images/Booted-4.jpg

However, i'm yet to find one with striking pale fringes to the secondaries and tertials, and they always seem to look like this:

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?im...3D10%26hl%3Den

and this:

http://www.orientalbirdimages.org/se...ID=&pagesize=1

with the closest match being this bird:

http://www.orientalbirdimages.org/se...ID=&pagesize=1

This is a very interesting bird! Still think thats it an Upcher's based on a number of factors that have been mentioned throughout this thread. I think that while there are individual features that may be shown by Booted as well, they don't all add up to make the complete package. I've been wrong before though...

hannu Sunday 13th May 2007 18:43

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard King (Post 886570)
You might like to check out the following page - I have toned down the sun on AJ's pictures and have these images together with shots of both Upchers and Olivaceous for comparison - see what you think
> http://www.hawar-islands.com/blog/id_stub.php

More concentrated whitish secondary panel refers clearly better to Upcher's than Eastern Olivaceous. This bird does not look Booted Warbler; it has not dark-looking crown-sides, not rounded head, not relatively short bill, not rather short tail as it should be, if the bird would be Booted.

hannu Monday 14th May 2007 10:17

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard King (Post 886546)
I would therefore go with Reed (Eastern / fuscus presumably) but for me the light does make it impossible to say for certain. Rump colour (if noted) would be another clue (should be warm brown in Reed at this time of year but more or less concolorous with mantle in Marsh).

Blyth's Reed is another possibility but it appears to lack the 'flattened head' of that species, and also the dark tip to the lower mandible.

This case is very clear that bird is indeed Hippo-species without any doupt.
Reed and Blyth's Reed has not pale wing panel or so dark eyes as this bird and Blyth's Reed has not any pale tips or edges in the wing feathers (the feature, which it separate from every Hippos and related Acros; thus being very uniform upperparts with at most olive tinge in the outer edges of wing feathers and coverts). In addition to Blyth's Reed has not that kind of whitish outer web on t6 (which is very typical for Hippo), neither so clear white tips on the tail feathers (typical also for fuscus and also even nominate Reed, but not usually so distinct).
Some Blyth's Reed has all pale lower mandible without any clear mark of dark spot near the tip, but that kind of individuals are rather rare.

Howard King Monday 14th May 2007 10:53

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jane Turner (Post 887395)
Howard, Booted is a small neat tidy bird, confusable with a Phylloscopus!

This is a big stonking Hippo!

Jane if it were a big Hippo can you ask AJ how in the first place he thought it small enough to be considered a Graceful or Scrub Warbler - he is sure it was a small bird which Upchers is not.

Was out yesterday again here in Bahrain saw around a dozen olivaceous but didn't sadly see any further Upchers. We did manage to trap and ring seven species including A Nightjar, Nightingale, Garden and Reed Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher - I did have a good look at each any can say in all honesty AJ's bird was not amongst them.

hannu Monday 14th May 2007 11:26

The head shape and the head size is clearly wrong for typical Booted. The biggest Eastern Olivaceous are same size as the smallest Upcher's individuals (Svensson). So the size of these two later mentioned Hippo-species varies rather much. I have no seen any pics from Booted, which jizz reminds somehow Acro. As the Jane said, Booted reminds more Phyllocs than Acro (in shape and also possible so in size too).

Frenchy Monday 14th May 2007 18:22

Hi

Howard, for those of us not on mbnet, is it possible to post those comments on here as well, or provide a link? It would be really useful to have everything in one place. I see that Killian Mullarney has suggested Eastern Olivaceous as the best fit. The only comment from Killian i've read is the very brief one that you posted on EBN. Was there any more? Also, any chance you could post your photoshopped overlays? Sorry if thats asking a lot, but it would really help the learning curve.

Cheers,
Paul.

JANJ Monday 14th May 2007 20:48

Paul.

different opinions are to be seen here - either EOW or UW it could be either or UW which I lean towards.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MEBird...sages/3238?l=1

JanJ

Howard King Monday 14th May 2007 21:44

Hi Paul (Frenchy) -

Some of the replies I receive are sent privately more so for MEB than EBN as such I am not prepared to place those here. Network traffic for EBN & MEB is fully documented on the web not certain of the url's however. I sent the intial inquiry to both networks so replies can often appear on both. I did received an update from Killian, sent to me direct, I will ask him to reply as he has read these discussions.

My photoshop bits and pieces I discarded -

Hi Hannu -

Swensson (in my english copy page 178) also states for H. pallida, the following:
NB.1 The smallest individuals of H. p. elaeica may be difficult to separate from H caligata Booted Warbler –
NB. 2 H. P. elaeica may also be very difficult to seperate from ad. Acrocephalus dumetorum Blyth's Reed Warbler.

You mention that head shape and size as being wrong for Booted it is precisely these features that many birders here in the middle east, feel do not fit into their perceived jizz for Olivaceous or Upcher's they state that those species are much more flat headed. I however still remain open minded and await a clinical diagnosis of the pictures. I now change my mind yet again to "don't Know"

We do also face a problem with Swensson for some species - a lack of data so we have to use a variety of other books. The reason being that in the Arabian Gulf so few birds have been fully studied or collected that the sub species thought to occur for some has to yet to be proven scientifically and could in fact be wrong. In fact so much of the old data we have here is based purely on field obs, separation for many Ssp can be dificult enough even with the bird in the hand. We are fortunate to be able to call on Mike Jennings coordinator of Arabian Breeding Bird Atlas he has an incredible database and bibliography plus a wealth of local birding expertise.

An example of observations from our old records - I will quote one of my favourites from Rogers & Gallagher 1973 Birds of Bahrain (privately published)
"Records not at present accepted. Melanitta fusca Velvet Scoter - not accepted misidentification of Cormorants fishing offshore". The observers name wasn't given but it does make you wonder a bit as to the quality of Historic obs, however this is nothing as I am constantly being amazed also at just how good some visiting birders are when they report that have been able to separate in the field at a hundred metres in our light certain species down to subspecies level.

gerdwichers8 Tuesday 15th May 2007 00:30

Hello BF-ers

I am preparing for my 13 weeks recumbent cycling trip, so I have no time to weigh all refinement in this thread. (My gear demands different thinking)
It should have been a weak thing just to follow Mullarny or Mullarney and say: EOW; but I did not.
Apart from his expertise in this, I found myself not at all with any other while reading the thread,even though it made me shrimp on my own position.
I too think its a EOW.

hannu Tuesday 15th May 2007 06:31

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard King (Post 889058)
Hi Hannu -

Swensson (in my english copy page 178) also states for H. pallida, the following:
NB.1 The smallest individuals of H. p. elaeica may be difficult to separate from H caligata Booted Warbler –
NB. 2 H. P. elaeica may also be very difficult to seperate from ad. Acrocephalus dumetorum Blyth's Reed Warbler.

You mention that head shape and size as being wrong for Booted it is precisely these features that many birders here in the middle east, feel do not fit into their perceived jizz for Olivaceous or Upcher's they state that those species are much more flat headed. I however still remain open minded and await a clinical diagnosis of the pictures. I now change my mind yet again to "don't Know"

We do also face a problem with Swensson for some species - a lack of data so we have to use a variety of other books. The reason being that in the Arabian Gulf so few birds have been fully studied or collected that the sub species thought to occur for some has to yet to be proven scientifically and could in fact be wrong. In fact so much of the old data we have here is based purely on field obs, separation for many Ssp can be dificult enough even with the bird in the hand. We are fortunate to be able to call on Mike Jennings coordinator of Arabian Breeding Bird Atlas he has an incredible database and bibliography plus a wealth of local birding expertise.

At least some EOW can be that kind of head shape in some pics.
The size is sometimes rather difficult to estimate in the field and the variation of the size is rather big on these small sized birds (very often 10%).
I wonder why the bird seems to be some tail movements in the pics, which just refers to EOW or Upcher's.

We can rule out Blyth's Reed for sure. Blyth's Reed has chest-nut iris and curved rictal bristles, whereas all Hippo species have relative dark eye and straigth rictal bristles. Also Blyth's Reed has same colour in alula as the wing. This is somewhat variable in worn birds in BRW, but most have outer web of alula quite uniform and contrasting to darker inner web. Marsh Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler and at least most greyish Hippo species have darker alula with paler outer margin.

Howard King Tuesday 15th May 2007 10:20

I agree Blyth's Reed seems unlikely. The obvious features on the wing are clear however the main sticking points are size as first described by Adrian - the shape of the head, colour of the legs, tail shape, rounded or square and was it spread out or fanned plus flicked or wagged, all points picked up by others and repeated in personal correspondence.

There is also one item I think we also have to consider and that is the bird's behaviour. On passage Upcher's are a skulking and silent passage migrant species, prefering areas of open but mixed vegetation. Olivaceous are a local migrant breeding species and behave accordingly. Quite gregarious males constantly sing often from prominent perches and all, both m/f are so much more active popping in and out, up and down and around the vegetation. They have a preference for thick mature vegetation. However Reed and Marsh warblers can be skulking or active, and when active in a feeding mode do flick wag and fan tails possibly for balance but it is behaviour seen often plus they regularly turn up in coastal halophytic vegetation especially if mixed with tamarisk as is the case in the location where AJ photographed this bird. We have ringed three or four Reed this week, I personally rule out this species with complete confidence on shape, size and colour alone even given the bad light in the pictures.

Don't know if this helps any but all adds to the picture.

Howard King Tuesday 15th May 2007 10:28

PS to the above can't pass comments on Booted have never seen one.

hannu Tuesday 15th May 2007 10:58

Follow thougths based on your (Howard's link) pics;
There seems to be some differences in the length of tertials and in the primary projection between these species (EOW and Upcher's). The tertials are longer, thus reaches at least in the same line as "the tip of " secondaries in Upcher's, whereas tertials of Eastern Olivaceous does not "cover" totally secondaries. The primary projection seems to be longer in Upcher's than Eastern Olivaceous, but these details should study more.
Also we should look at possible differences in supercilium and loral areas.
In my mind, the supercilium of EOW looks more distinct and sharp in the front of eye and above the eye than in Upcher's, but this based only few pics of Upcher's. The dark loral area is rather wide and thus odd in this 'mystery' bird.


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