Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Rare and Beautiful.

This week two little beauties turned up, one in our area, the other just outside. In the case of the first find - the Yellow-browed Warbler - in terms of vagrants this is an annual species presumably often in several hundreds around this time of year, though those actually found are much less in number.

Yellow-browed Warbler. Copy Permitted.

This Yellow-browed Warbler (YBW) was found at Fluke Hall on Sunday 14 October. The species breeds in Siberia and winters in Nepal, China, and Asia. This bird is the commonest Siberian vagrant to Western Europe. In 1985 there was an amazing influx of the YBW into this country in excess of 600 known individuals. There are suggestions that a small number of these birds may winter here, but what happens when the YBW leaves Britain is a complete mystery and the truth is, until a wintering area is discovered it seems likely that the vast majority of YBW's which turn up in Britain each year in autumn and peaking early October, leave to continue their migration south-westwards, only to perish in the Atlantic Ocean. 

The first record of YBW in Britain was in Northumberland 1838 which - by an amazing coincidence - is the same county as the second Pallas's Warbler was found 113 years later in 1951. In fact this YBW was initially thought to be a Pallas's Warbler and it wasn't until 25 years later that the mistake was corrected in 1863. The annual average sightings of YBW is around 300 in Britain alone. 

In the case of the second find - the Pallas's Warbler - this bird was found the following day Monday 15 October at Knott End and is regarded by some birders as the ultimate rarity and is a little gem. This species breeds in Central, East, and Southern Asia, and winters in South-east Asia. It is a tiny bird about the size of a Goldcrest and originates in a far off magical part of the world prompting the extraordinary this creature ever gets here at all. In recent years it has occurred in numbers and was in fact 'unthinkably' removed from the Rarities List at the end of the 1990's. 

The first record of Pallas's Warbler in Britain was in Norfolk 1896. Quite amazingly the second record of this species wasn't until 55 years later in Northumberland 1951.

Since I wrote this post to save as a draft I have visited Knott End today to have three 5 second views of this elusive little gem, the last view at 1.20pm was the best and the bird came out into the open to linger momentarily.


Sharon Whitley said...

you are a mine of information Pete, what gorgeous little birds - and a thrill to see I'm sure - let's hope they don't go on and perish in the ocean though :-(

Pete Marsh said...

plus Yellow-browed at heysham yesterday, Pete

If we locked the hides at Leighton Moss in September and October would more be found or would people stay at home?

Pete Woodruff said...

Sharon....I understand your feelings about things like 'perishing in the Atlantic' but best not to dwell on sentimentality, nature will take its course anyhow.

Pete....Yes good to see YBW found at Heysham. Think I'll 'pass' on the hides at Leighton Moss question!!