Monday, 29 February 2016

More on wintering warblers

At one point on Saturday the Portesham Pallas's Warbler appeared to be associating with a small group of Chiffchaffs, plenty of which have been over-wintering in our mild climate this year. In truth, I think it was just that they were all gorging on insects in the same area during the sunniest part of the day, as when the sun went in, the Pallas's become more elusive, and when it did reappear it was very much on its own. I say 'Chiffchaff', but with recent DNA test results suggesting that the colybitta, tristis and abietinus sub-species Chiffchaffs were all present in Ireland this time last year, the possibilities seem increasingly endless. But we don't want to spark another Chiff-off between those fractious boffins, do we, so let's just make the altogether more straightforward comparison between Chiffchaff and Pallas's Warbler instead. You know, like one of those ID articles in the magazines. Or a not very challenging 'Challenge ID' piece.
Chiffchaff - no wingbars, a narrow supercilium, and sullied, yellow-washed underparts
Pallas's Warbler - two wingbars (one hidden here), a strong supercilium with matching crown stripe, and pure white underparts
Chiffchaff - very plain wings
Pallas's Warbler - a riot of wingbars and brightly tipped tertials, not to mention a 'cycle helmet' head stripe pattern
Chiffchaff feeding on a bee - a substantial meal
Pallas's Warbler - not feeding on a bee
Chiffchaff dipping its tail to reveal a plain rump
And you won't see a rump like that on a Chiffy! Ok, I admit it, it wasn't an ID post after all, but a thinly veiled excuse to post more photos of that Pallas's Warbler. Can you really blame me?

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