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Saturday, 20 April 2013

Willow Warbler (?) help please - on 15th April, 2013

I'm relatively new to birdwatching, and not very good at identification when it comes to LBJs (little brown jobs). This is partly due to inexperience and the fact that I usually birdwatch alone so don't have the benefit of knowledgeable advice from experienced birders, but also partly due to my increasing age-related inability to carry much in my head for extended periods!!

So where's this going to?

Well, each year, usually between the beginning of August and early September, I get what I've always believed to be Willow Warbler (rather than Chiffchaff) briefly visiting our garden. This has mainly been based on strong yellow colouration underneath and pale legs. I've never heard one utter a sound.

This year I had what I also believe to be a Willow Warbler visit my garden on Monday. Whilst there was virtually no yellow showing on the underside (a normal situation for spring, I believe), the legs were again pale red-brown. Again no song, or utterance of any sort, was heard. The only other possibility, I think, is Chiffchaff, but I've sort of ruled that out.

The bird appeared at about 09:00, and spent a lot of time busily grubbing around in a bit of rough weed-filled garden that is awaiting me getting my head round a project that I have in store (well, I do have to make some excuse for all those weeds!). It was barely still for a second. It obviously stayed close as, in total, I probably watched it for about two hours during the course of the day, it last being seen at about 18:00. All the time it was picking insects, etc. out of the weeds, only flying up into the surrounding shrubs when it was disturbed, and then dropping back down to the ground within seconds. The next day it was gone. 

All you experts out there, or anyone else with an opinion, is my identification correct, please? It would also help me, for future reference, if you could give your reasoning behind your identification.





Willow Warbler (?) - our garden
Thank you for taking the time to look at this. Your comments would be much appreciated.

UPDATE on 20/04/2013: Although there's no way I can guarantee that it's the same bird, we had a return visit today - and this time it sang from the top of our nut tree! This bird was definitely a Willow Warbler!

22 comments:

  1. I'm not familiar with birds in your area but after googling, it does appear to be a willow warbler. Basing this on the eye stripe, color, and shape. You took some really nice shots of this cutie!

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  2. Hi Richard,i would be more inclined to say Willow warbler.
    Cracking images.
    John.

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  3. You may be relatively new to birding but certainly not to photography. I always find Stewart at http://paying-ready-attention-gallery.blogspot.com.au
    particularly helpful with identification.

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  4. It is a very pretty bird. Great shots of your Willow Warbler.

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    1. Thank you Eileen. I'd never really thought of Willow Warblers as pretty, but it was fascinating to watch it delicately seeking out its food. They do, also, have a pretty song!

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  5. Yes....Willow Warbler, and in your garden too Richard....WOW!!

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  6. The classic dilemma Richard and one which many have agonised over (not usually in their own garden though!!) including myself. There have been many websites and forums devoted to this topic and I'm sure many birds mis-identified along the way. In this case I would say (almost) definitely Willow Warbler. If only it had sung!

    However, what a wonderful dilemma to have in your garden, you really do attract some great birds! The photos are lovely, so nice to be able to get so close. You just need the other classic head scratcher now Willow/Marsh Tit ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Jan. A repeat visit today (might not be the same bird) and it stayed in the top of our cob nut tree and sang its heart out whilst I was in the garden painting the fence. Now that WAS a Willow Warbler!!

      I just can't believe how lucky we are with our birds. We have actually also had Willow Tit in the garden several times before, but last year's (in June) was the first for several years. I'm relatively confident of the identification because of dull black on head and pale wing panels.

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  7. WOW indeed!
    That is one bird I have still not seen!
    Great shots Richard!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Noushka. They're a relatively common bird in UK, but not so common, I believe, in gardens.

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  8. Hi Richard, I would say Willow Warbler. I tend to see these in my garden late summer early autumn.

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  9. Willow Warblers/Chiff Chaffs confuse the bugger out of me, it's the one I struggle with and I'm never 100% certain, however for early spring I would look at the length of the pale stripe above the eye for WWarb' (yours has) also the length of the primary projections roughly equal in length to the tertials (yours appear to be), Chiff-Chaffs are shorter also check for slight yellow tinge around throat area and pale belly...never easy when bird is moving around, I think Willow Warbler

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Doug, for your very detailed reply. Willow Warbler it is then!

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  10. Congrats!!! It looks like a Willow Warbler. One for my list:) It may not be an owl but that's one cool bird:)

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    1. Thank you Chris. Will try and come up with some more owls soon, but it looks like we might be starting a bit of a 'shoulder period'!

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