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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 06:05   #1
AJDH
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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
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 09:03   #2
Frenchy
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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.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 12:22   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenchy View Post
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.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 12:31   #4
James Lowther
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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..
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 12:59   #5
Edward woodwood
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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.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 13:01   #6
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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
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 13:22   #7
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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.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 13:43   #8
Jane Turner
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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?
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 13:46   #9
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Doesn't appear to have the huge PP projection and blotchy ut coverts that you'd expect on on Olive-tree Warbler either.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 14:25   #10
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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
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 16:23   #11
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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

Last edited by JANJ : Friday 11th May 2007 at 16:44.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 16:32   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane Turner View Post
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.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 17:05   #13
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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.
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Old Friday 11th May 2007, 17:07   #14
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Upchers is famous for swinging its tail about like a Shrike. Waving it from side to dide, not just cocking it.
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Old Saturday 12th May 2007, 07:32   #15
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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.
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Old Saturday 12th May 2007, 10:47   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenchy View Post
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.
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Old Saturday 12th May 2007, 12:04   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hannu View Post
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
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Old Saturday 12th May 2007, 16:08   #18
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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

Last edited by Ghostly Vision : Saturday 12th May 2007 at 16:11.
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Old Sunday 13th May 2007, 01:56   #19
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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.

Last edited by Howard King : Sunday 13th May 2007 at 09:57. Reason: addition
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Old Sunday 13th May 2007, 08:32   #20
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Upcher's is my vote also. Among other things, the spacing of primaries and tertials fits Upcher's (almost perfectly).
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Old Sunday 13th May 2007, 09:25   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard King View Post
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.
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Old Sunday 13th May 2007, 11:52   #22
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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.
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Old Sunday 13th May 2007, 11:54   #23
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Howard, Booted is a small neat tidy bird, confusable with a Phylloscopus!

This is a big stonking Hippo!
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Old Sunday 13th May 2007, 12:38   #24
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I say Booted for this one.
Primary projection alone rules out Booted, IMHO.
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Old Sunday 13th May 2007, 13:40   #25
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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
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