Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler - New for the Western Palearctic

Well, readers of this blog yesterday perhaps visiting to read the post on the chestnut-eared bunting will have seen a prediction posted later in the evening, it read:

'It was on this day in 2009 at The Lea, South Shields, Durham that an eastern crowned warbler was found, study the range of chestnut-eared bunting of the nominate migratory race fucata and there is a remarkable degree of overlap in breeding and wintering range between the two. Can we expect the third UK record of eastern crowned wabler any day now?'

This was 'inspired' by the news of the bunting followed by a relaxing evening on the settee reading 'Birds of Asia' by Mark Brazil. I looked at the range of the bunting and thought ' well what else may turn up', I scanned over pale-legged leaf warbler and thought 'mmm, similar range but too way out, i know lets settle on eastern crowned warbler, thats turned up twice, and, blow me down, on the same day in 2009', so before heading for bed I posted a quick prediction on the blog. I was flabbergasted to see the news in the morning of the pale-legged leaf warbler at Portland having not seen the breaking news in the evening. Anyway, enough of that guff - so what of the bird?

What I stunning find! Found in a private garden at Southwell on Portland on 22nd October and initially (understandably) identified as an eastern crowned warbler it was viewable to a select few Portland birders who were invited to view the bird in the garden. Fortunately, good photographs were obtained but it wasn't until later that Martin Cade identified the bird as pale-legged leaf warbler. Despite efforts to mistnet the bird the following day it had departed. Photographs of the bird are viewable here:

With a write-up on Lee Evans blog here:

Pale-legged leaf warbler is an extreme eastern vagrant, its breeding range is restricted to south-east Russia (including Ussiriland), north-east China and North Korea the entire population migrants south to winter in South-east Asia including Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia - its chances of reaching the UK are slim in the extreme. It is distinguished from eastern crowned warbler by its pale legs, the concolorous grey crown lacking the pale central crown of eastern crowned warbler and by the grey of the crown merging into the greyish tones of the mantle.

Some good videos and pictures here to compare very three similar species:

This is the first record for the Western Palearctic and the species is generally not known for its vagrancy although according to 'Handbook of the Birds of the World' there are records from the Andaman Islands and Nicobar, still a long flight to reach Portland from here.

I am sure there are many people up and down the country hoping that this bird is re-found, but this seems unlikely now.......