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Bush Warbler Sichuan

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Old Saturday 10th January 2009, 01:37   #1
china guy
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Bush Warbler Sichuan

Bush Warblers in Sichuan during winter are arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
This is from yesterday - anyone out there who know about these - do you agree its Aberrant.
Habitat - long grass bush/river side - in flocks - not very skulky like some of the bush-warblers - about 600m on the very edge of the Sichuan Basin just before the Qingcheng Mountains.

Sid
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Old Saturday 10th January 2009, 13:07   #2
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Bush Warblers in Sichuan during winter are arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
Well you have chosen to live in the Bush-warbler capital of the world!!

Hi Sid,

Firstly let me congratulate you on a remarkable photograph! Bit of a stunner considering the family involved!! Unaware that they have the potential to 'flock' in winter.
Obviously you are aware that there are some very similar species and I initially thought this might also be Yellowish-bellied due to the rather thin bill and the lack of greenish tones to the upperparts overall though with a lack of rufous edging to the flight feathers, I think we could dismiss this. The similar Brownish-flanked appears to be heavier billed and I think? your bird is just too bright, even for a 1st Yr of that species and and also doesn't show any of the dusky flank tones associated with it. The subspecies involved in your area intricata I believe is less olive-green above and from what I gather the plumage seems to fit well though I would have perhaps expected a stronger appearing supercilium in front of the eye. Does appear to have a nice pink base to the lower mandible but I have some reservations about the pale ventral area and the rather short appearing tail (rather Buff-throated Warbler like!) but to conclude I think you're probably correct with your identification and that this is indeed an Aberrant Bush-warbler!

Don't suppose you heard the call?

Hopefully James Eaton et.al will come along and confirm/dismiss these thoughts?

Can I suggest that you send this great capture to both OBC and the DB here, you don't often see crackers like this!! It's a good learning curve!

Regards

Mark
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Old Saturday 10th January 2009, 15:29   #3
china guy
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Thanks Mark - yes indeed we got calls - short pleasant sounding Churing contact calls as the flock of about 30 or so birds came through - none of the harsh - tack tack - type sounds you get with Brownish-flanked and Yellowish-bellied - and these birds were more visible than the usual Bush Warbler - not the 1 nano-second glances you normally get after standing over a bush for 5 minutes (Bush Warblers can be pure hell in winter - at least during spring/summer you can lure them out with playback). This is the second time we've been to this location - a river where old gravel working are now overgrown with scrub and grasses (we're looking for new duck sites) - on both occasions this warbler was easy to find in small flocks.
Thanks also for the praise for the photo - but that should go to the wife and not me - she does all the pics. We want this one in our - blog - but just want to see if folk agree with us on Aberrant before we put the picture up.
Hope Mr Eaton or indeed any other Bush Warbler boffins pass by and give an opinion.

We'll eventually get the pic to OBC and opus.

All the best
Sid and Meggie
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Old Saturday 10th January 2009, 15:37   #4
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The call, described as a soft 'shivering 'brrrt-brrrt" should clinch it... Brilliant

Can't find any reference to this winter grouping behaviour though, but makes sense, really interesting. Love the blog BTW.

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Old Thursday 15th January 2009, 15:44   #5
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Call is the clincher on this one. As Mark mentioned, the other confusion species would be Yellow-bellied due to the bright (! this is a bush warbler we're talking about here!) underpart and upperpart tones, dismissing Brownish-flanked.

Phylloscopus shape rules out all the other bush warblers possible in Sichuan.

Also shows the rusty forecrown I regularly notice on Aberrant too.

Stick with calling birds next time please Sid!
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Old Saturday 17th January 2009, 13:22   #6
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Sid,
now that you got the Id, please upload this image to the Gallery, we dont have a single image of this species!

I hope you don't mind me going ahead and using this image for Opus

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Old Sunday 18th January 2009, 18:50   #7
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A thread in the taxonomy forum indicates that the bird photographed here is subspecies ''intricata''. It also discusses proposals to move this and one more subspecies to Sunda Bush-Warbler.

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Old Sunday 18th January 2009, 22:24   #8
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Exactly!
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Old Monday 19th January 2009, 08:55   #9
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we're just back from a trip - so this discussion has taken us by surprise.
James Eaton points out about the chestnut/rusty tinge to the crown - I can also recall Bush warblers on the top of Emei - a 3,000m habitat about 100km away - with a Slight chestnut tinge to the crown. At the time we also suspected this bird to be Aberrant - but got no photograph - but strongly suspect they are the same species we're seeing here at this nearby lower location.

Not wanting to get into a discussion on taxonomy - I will however put my 2 cents in where the birds are coming from - I suspect these birds are the same as we saw up on Emei, and as such are local altitude migrants - originating from nearby mountains that lie close to the Tibetan Plateau. The tops of these smaller mountain ranges - such as Emei - have recently had snow - so some of the winter birds we see at the moment - in the Sichuan basin - are coming from these habitats.

When we get time we'll attempt to make a recording of the birds - if we can find them again (we've seen them 2 out of 2 times at the same location - so have a good chance to bump into them a third time).

Sid and Meggie

PS – Niels feel free to use our pics for Opus - we’ll put the image up in the gallery – but what name do we put it under????
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Old Monday 19th January 2009, 11:38   #10
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Emei Shan, Balang Shan, Zhegu Shan and Wawu Shan are regularly reported localities for this species, see China Bird Report
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Old Monday 19th January 2009, 12:39   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by china guy View Post

PS – Niels feel free to use our pics for Opus - we’ll put the image up in the gallery – but what name do we put it under????
Thanks for your consent

For now, label the image with Aberrant Bush Warbler, and under comments say that it is most likely subspecies intricata, which is the form expected in Sichuan.

Cheers
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Old Monday 19th January 2009, 12:55   #12
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Aberrant Bush Warbler is the commonest breeding bush warbler along with Brownish-flanked in that area. They should just move lower down in winter with some moving a little further south too.

Sid, on the top of Emei Chestnut-crowned and Grey-sided also occur - these show strong chestnut crowns but are far more localised than Aberrant. the scrub along the monorail is a good spot though Wawu shan is the best spot of all.

The paper published regarding lumping them with Sunda Bush Warbler was rather weak in critical areas, and now there is a proposal to split Aberrant into three! (two in Himalaya and the Chinese birds).
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Old Wednesday 21st January 2009, 03:30   #13
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Here's the call - as you can hear it isn't a very loud bird - and although there were again many of them around - I couldn't get that close to get good recordings. In the minute of sound we get a Little Bunting and a Cockrel at the beginning - then the Bush Warbler comes in with those soft sounding Chrrrrr's - and right at the end you get a large Chinese new years firecracker - the sounds of Chinese birding!!!!!

Happy Chinese New Year

All the best Sid and Meggie
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