Sunday, 23 May 2010

After weeks and weeks of very little, a bird worth reporting was finally found. It came in the form of a male Subalpine Warbler singing in the bushes behind Cristin. The bird showed well enough to be identified as the subspecies albistriata, Eastern Subalpine Warbler; an identification which was easily confirmed a short time later when it was caught in a mist net. It then came as something of a surprise when, while waiting for the bird to reappear, a second Subalpine Warbler, this time a female, came into view low down in the vegetation!

Subalpine Warbler seems to have become something of a Bardsey speciality. There have now been seven different birds recorded here in the last four years: two male albistriata in spring 2007; an unraced female in spring 2008; a male cantillans in spring 2009 and a young bird in the autumn of the same year; and today's two birds. This is not the first occasion that there has been more than one Subalp on the island at the same time - in 1994, for example, three were present together.

The pictures below show today's male Subalpine Warbler, with last year's male S.c.cantillans for comparison.

Today's male Eastern Subalpine Warbler (c) Steve Stansfield

Today's Eastern Subalpine Warbler - Note the restricted red on the throat (c) Steve Stansfield

Last year's male Western Subalpine Warbler - note the greater extent of the red on the underside, typical of this race (c) Steve Stansfield

Besides the Subalps, a few other birds of note were seen. A Turtle Dove was found on the mountainside in the afternoon, a Reed Warbler was singing at Cristin and 15 Common Scoters flew south at sea. A modest increase in the number of migrant passerines included ten Sedge Warblers, eight Whitethroats, 12 Chiffchaffs, five Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler, six Spotted Flycatchers, five Goldfinches and three Redpolls. Two Sanderlings and eight Dunlins were on the beach, a smart altifrons Golden Plover was on the South End, the number of Collared Doves rose to nine and 11 Swifts, 220 Swallows, 41 House Martins and 12 Sand Martins all dashed through during the course of the day.

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