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May 20th, a Sylvia at Landguard Point, Suffolk (1 Viewer)

KenM

Well-known member
On Wednesday May 20th (with the government easing of travel restrictions) we a family unit of three, broke out of lockdown and headed East to Felixstowe.Because of a tight schedule and sod's law being what it is....having to drop off family members at one point of the resort whilst I Birded the reserve, with an agreed phone call for pick-up time.

It was always going to follow that if anything of ''interest'' was to be found....it would be just moments before the ''pick-up'' phone call. That's when I found this Sylvia warbler deep in a ''shadowed'' bush (thinking probable Lesser Whitethroat), although I thought that I'd seen pink tints through the viewfinder to the under-parts). Whereby I rattled off a burst of shots before it flew towards the beach bushes, with these being the best of a bad bunch before having to leave.

Meeting up with wife and grandson for a picnic lunch and discussing the morning's events coerced me into forgetting the ''Lesser Whitethroat'' images in camera, before remembering some forty five minutes later!
Upon reviewing the shots I went into panic mode! as me returning to site for another hour, wouldn't go down well with the family, thus sowing some discontent all round. Eventually with the other side agreeing....I was on my way with an hours ''play time''.

Needless to say apart from a Lesser and Common Whitethroat several Linnets and a few Swallows heading South there was no sign of the bird in question. With less than half an hour remaining I agonised do I put it out on what some might regard as flimsy evidence and set hares running, or do I conveniently forget about it?

I decided that with a leave time of 4pm there would be a good four hours of daylight left for ''locals'' to search thus I put it out on RBA as a Subalpine Warbler, within 15 minutes a birder arrived, I told him that I'd taken some bad images which he asked to see. This is where social distancing went out the window (with us both losing the plot!)....as he remained unconvinced peering into the LCD screen with heads being perhaps a foot apart! It was only my wife's timely arrival...screaming! ''social distancing ''that we both re-coiled and beat a hasty retreat!

Upon returning home some two hours later I reviewed the images on the computer, also sending them to colleagues for appraisal. I got ''looks interesting, but should the tail look that dark, perhaps better suited for LW which had been present in the bush at the same time. Feeling a bit miffed that I didn't have a clean head shot of the bird and wondering if the sensor in the camera had ''exaggerated'' the blue-grey tint because of the lighting (don't know if this is possible?) , I decided rightly, or wrongly, to declare it as erroneous and asked RBA pull the bird lest we set more hares running from further afield.

However, having subsequently seen the image of the recent Yorkshire (female) bird, I was struck at how almost dirty brown/grey the upper-parts appeared not realising that they can look like that, although having seen Subalpine at home and abroad, most of my sightings have been of males and thus not exactly too challenging......perhaps one that got away. :-C

Cheers
 

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Mike Earp

Well-known member
Ken

What is it that makes you think the bird was not a Lesser Whitethroat, which is what it looks like to me?

Mike
 

Mike Earp

Well-known member
I believe I’ve stated the reasons why in the thread?

Lesser Whitethroat is said to have "Underparts smoky-grey, with pinkish-buff suffusion on breast and flanks" so "pink tints" does not rule that species out. In your as-ever excellent photographs the back does not look blue-grey to me. Or am I missing something?
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
I believe I’ve stated the reasons why in the thread?

Yes: sort-of but not exactly clear, Ken. I'm a great believer in less is more so something along the lines of "I think this might be... because... .. What do you think?" would better fit that bill
 

KenM

Well-known member
Lesser Whitethroat is said to have "Underparts smoky-grey, with pinkish-buff suffusion on breast and flanks" so "pink tints" does not rule that species out. In your as-ever excellent photographs the back does not look blue-grey to me. Or am I missing something?

I believe you’re getting your upper-parts confused with your under-parts?

A seemingly concolourous blue/grey wash/tint to the upper-parts are not Lesser Whitethroat attributes as far as I’m aware?
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
There doesn't appear to be any contrast between the outer webs and the centre of the tertials - appearing concolourous with the remiges. I think I am correct in saying that pretty much rules out Subalpine, if not, the lack of white fringing on the second outermost rectrix fairly safely excludes that species. Not easy to see, but even in images of this quality, it should be present (specifically image 4).
 

KenM

Well-known member
There doesn't appear to be any contrast between the outer webs and the centre of the tertials - appearing concolourous with the remiges. I think I am correct in saying that pretty much rules out Subalpine, if not, the lack of white fringing on the second outermost rectrix fairly safely excludes that species. Not easy to see, but even in images of this quality, it should be present (specifically image 4).

To my eye Daniel image 2. appears to show pale contrast to the outer tertials with the inner?

Cheers
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
To my eye Daniel image 2. appears to show pale contrast to the outer tertials with the inner?

Cheers

I can't be sure, but I think that is the pale panel formed along the leading edge of the remiges on the folded wing - often the only point of contrast on the wing of Lesser whitethroat - often more contrasting in eastern birds IMO (though I am not implying this particular bird is any of the eastern races).
 

KenM

Well-known member
FWIW I've added a final image....can anyone explain to me why the upper-part colour is consistently of a blue grey persuasion?
 

Mike Earp

Well-known member
Ken

Do you think the legs are visible in your photos? I think they are and that they are dark not pale which supports Lesser Whitethroat.

Mike
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Strong light? I think this one has been put to bed Ken, although I notice you haven't commented on the rectrix feature - I guess you don't have additional pictures showing this?
 

KenM

Well-known member
Ken

Do you think the legs are visible in your photos? I think they are and that they are dark not pale which supports Lesser Whitethroat.

Mike

I can't see the legs on any of the images, FWIW here's an Eastern Lesser Whitethroat taken during September, note no hint of blue grey to the upper-parts?
 

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dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Is that an eastern bird Ken? What was it accepted as? I've not seen minula or althaea but it looks nothing like any of the halimodendri or blythi I've seen.
 
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KenM

Well-known member
Strong light? I think this one has been put to bed Ken, although I notice you haven't commented on the rectrix feature - I guess you don't have additional pictures showing this?

No I don't have any additional pictures showing the inner rectrices, which as you know are not easy to see, normally in the hand spread or in flight like my earlier shot.

I did wonder about the light turning brown tints to blue hence my withdrawal as erroneous to be on the safe side, however if that is a possibility (does anybody know?) as I'd be very interested in this phenomena, when other materials in the image leaves etc.remain true to colour type?

Cheers
 
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KenM

Well-known member
Is that an eastern bird Ken? What was it accepted as? I've not seen minula or althaea but it looks nothing like any of the halimoderna or blythi I've seen.

I was advised that the amount of white on the immediate inner rectrice suggested as such by a Dutch birder on the forum, also the white tip to the next (3rd) inner and the extent of the brown wash over nape and crown?

Cheers
 

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