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Orphean Warbler Hartlepool 29/05/2012

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  • Orphean Warbler Hartlepool 29/05/2012

    An Orphean Warbler has been trapped at Hartlepool Headland this morning, apparently a Western. No photos yet, but apparently still present 0920hrs.

    Brian S

  • #2
    Out of interest, here are some notes on the status of Orphean Warbler in the UK, with detailed notes from the published description of the first record on Portland in 1955.

    Portland, 20 September 1955
    Though trapped, the description published in British Birds (Vol 49, pp.181-182) of this bird is not very detailed, with the only measurements being wing 78mm and weight 21.2g - though the additional information also gives P3-5 emarginated, P3/4 longest, P5 -0.5mm, P2=P6 -5mm, and P1 +7mm than pc. Weight 21.2g.

    The description includes the following: iris dirty greyish white; paler grey crown, not brownish; upperparts fairly uniform greyish brown; breast whitish, faintly suffused pinkish buff; flanks brownish buff, tinged pink; undertail coverts paler pinkish buff; bill 'noticably long and strong', but also as stout almost shrike-like appearance; outer tail feathers whitish or white, rest with pale tips diminishing toward central pair.

    Ageing and sexing. The only real clue being eye colour being 'diagnostic in autumn' (Shirihai et al): first year birds are invariably 'grey-brown', 'never partially whitish'; adults are 'at least partially whitish cream', but there is individual variation. From the description here, with the eye described as 'dirty greyish white', I believe that perhaps the Portland bird was an adult. The outer tail is described as whitish (whatever that really means) and white, so is not counter to this ageing, and the white spots diminishing towards the centre also fits adult. If adult, the paler grey crown and greyish brown upperparts would tend to indicate female.

    Race. Having aged it, trying to ascribe it to race from the description is harder. The bill is undeniably one of the best features for differentiating crassirostris and hortensis: the former's bill being long and spiky; the latter's being short and strongly curved on the culmen. The description of the Portland bird's bill as both long and strong and shrike-like is not helpful - though shrike-like would indicate it is more like hortensis. Having undergone a (more or less) complete post-nuptial moult, the plumage is fresh and so the underparts with a pinkish tone, with brownish buff flanks, and the undertail coverts a pinkish buff wash are more suggestive of hortensis. Also, I suggest that if adult, the undertail features of darker centres to the undertail coverts on crassirostris might have been visible in the hand. Without any analysis of the tail, I feel that on the description alone it is still be possible to identify the Portland bird as an adult female hortensis.

    Luckily, the original description contained a single tail feather that fell out during the processing of the bird (and was stuck to a piece of paper with sellotape). Martin Cade kindly sent this to the BBRC who then sent it on to Steffan Bensch, who kindly analysed its DNA. He compared the results with those of hortensis and crassirostris and concluded that it was a strong match with the nominate race.

    The BOURC’s 34th report details the acceptance of the record, ‘ the description alone was not enough to identify the race, but the DNA evidence was strongly indicative of nominate hortensis’. This then leaves another four accepted Orphean Warbler records as yet unassigned to race: Porthgwarra, October 1967; the well-watched St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly record from October 1981; Aberdeen in October 1982; Saltash, May 1991. Of these, the Scilly record might be hortensis, but the photos seem a little contradictory - there are photos out there somewhere (see below); the two Autumn records are most likely to be first-winters and possibly crassirostris.

    Brian S

    Links to Orphean Warbler on Scilly in 1981
    http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/sha...1006101854.jpg and
    http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/sha...1015123547.jpg
    Last edited by Brian S; May 29th, 2012, 10:50 AM.

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    • #3
      http://www.birdforum.net/attachment....5&d=1338282554 - link to shaky photo of Hartlepool bird posted on BF - 1st summer?

      Brian S
      Last edited by Brian S; May 29th, 2012, 11:29 AM.

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      • #4
        ...and still showing at the bowling green at 1100hrs...

        Brian S

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        • #5
          A set of great photos on Rare Bird gallery - http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/dis...llery=gallery9

          http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/sha...9104054377.jpg

          http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/sha...9104000033.jpg


          Note worn wings and wing coverts - crassirostris are meant to have an extensive 'first pre-nuptial' moult (Shirihai et al), and so 1st summers should have fresher-looking wings than this. ''1st pre-nuptial moult takes place soon after their arrival on wintering grounds. In S. [h.] hortensis this often includes tertials and innermost secondaries as well as some greater coverts and rectrices; S. [h.] crassirostris has a much more extensive moult: usually only some secondaries, innermost primaries and primary coverts not renewed.' According to Shirihai et al , in Spring for 1st-summers 'moult pattern diagnostic'.

          Brian S
          Last edited by Brian S; May 29th, 2012, 12:33 PM.

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          • #6
            My rubbishy pics . . .
            Picture 101a.jpgPicture 100a.jpg

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            • #7
              Congrats on seeing it. Hartlepool does it again.



              Last edited by Bobolink44; May 30th, 2012, 08:07 AM.

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              • #8
                I am confused. I thought that if an Orphean of any age had white undertail-coverts then it was hortensis but that some hortensis can have dark feather centres on the undertail-coverts and that all crassirostris do have this. I don't have Shirahai's book but the latest Advanced Bird ID Handbook states this and I would have thought if true this would be the easiest feature to see in the field. Also the Collins Guide (1st edition), hints at this feature as well. Has this feature been discredited somewhere? If so can someone point out where?

                Cheers

                Roy
                Last edited by RoyHargreaves; May 30th, 2012, 09:04 AM.

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                • #9
                  Did anyone take a photo of the undertail coverts? Roy has pointed out their relative importance for ID, and they appear quite plain in the video, but were photos taken of this specifically?

                  This is the best I have seen - http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/sha...9104000033.jpg

                  Brian S
                  Last edited by Brian S; May 30th, 2012, 01:58 PM.

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                  • #10
                    I notice that Lars Svensson is naming a new subspecies of Western Orphean Warbler in the latest Bull. BOC - I look forward to reading this as it also apparently has notes on the ID of Eastern and Western Orpheans.

                    Brian S

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brian S View Post
                      the published description of the first record on Portland in 1955.
                      According to Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland, the first was one shot at Wetherby on 6 July 1848. Has that been reviewed and rejected subsequently?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MichaelF View Post
                        According to Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland, the first was one shot at Wetherby on 6 July 1848. Has that been reviewed and rejected subsequently?
                        Michael

                        Yes, this record is no longer accepted, even though there is a specimen in Leeds Museum. Supposedly a female (though the photo I have of it is so poor, I can't tell) and supposedly shot on 6th July 1848, it is one of a number of specimens treated as the 'Tadcaster Rarities' in which too many questions arise over its provenance. For example it was said to be 'engaged in incubation' (!), that the male was also seen at the time of it being shot, and there is no named collector.

                        See BB 98: May 2005, pp232.

                        Brian

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                        • #13
                          Thanks!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brian S View Post
                            Did anyone take a photo of the undertail coverts? Roy has pointed out their relative importance for ID, and they appear quite plain in the video, but were photos taken of this specifically?

                            This is the best I have seen - http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/sha...9104000033.jpg

                            Brian S
                            Hi Brian,

                            My concern was that this feature wasn't being mentioned by anyone that I had noticed and yet it is clearly stated in recent literature. I am sure that the undertail-coverts were plain from the views I got of the bird and that they had a faint wash of colour and weren't white - I wouldn't be brave enough to call it pinkish-buff as the bird wasn't that co-operative. However, knowing to look for that feature in the first place may have helped me as I think a number of the other features are less helpful without either direct comparison or far more extensive experience than I have of these taxa.

                            Roy

                            P.S. I am contacting Lars about something else so may ask about Orpheans at the same time.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RoyHargreaves View Post
                              Hi Brian,

                              My concern was that this feature wasn't being mentioned by anyone that I had noticed and yet it is clearly stated in recent literature. I am sure that the undertail-coverts were plain from the views I got of the bird and that they had a faint wash of colour and weren't white - I wouldn't be brave enough to call it pinkish-buff as the bird wasn't that co-operative. However, knowing to look for that feature in the first place may have helped me as I think a number of the other features are less helpful without either direct comparison or far more extensive experience than I have of these taxa.

                              Roy
                              Roy

                              I have just been sent a photo of the bird in the field from behind and with the tail raised - I hope to get permission to post it soon. This shows more clearly than in any other photo the colour of the undertail coverts (quite a rich yet dusty salmon-buff) and the lack of dark centres one would expect to see on Eastern.

                              Brian S

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