Monday, 17 February 2014

Yellow-rumped Warbler - High Shincliffe, Durham

One of the most popular birds of this winter has been a Yellow-rumped Warbler which has frequented bird feeders at High Shincliffe, Durham. While a little far for me to travel for a bird that I have seen many times before I cannot help but feel an inner tug to jump in a car to drive to see this bird - American Wood Warblers are fantastic birds regardless of how many one has seen.

There are 30 records of Yellow-rumped Warbler, with the only form confirmed as occurring in the UK (and indeed Europe) being Myrtle Warbler. However, of these many have occurred on off islands with Cape Clear and the Isles of Scilly accounting for half of the records to date.

The cracking photograph below taken by Martyn Sidwell shows many of the distinctive features of this species, including a hint of the yellow rump and breast breast side which distinguish it from all similar species.
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Martyn Sidwell
Yellow-rumped Warbler - High Shincliffe, Durham (Martyn Sidwell)
There are two 'groups' of Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audobon's Warbler breeds within the south-western USA while Myrtle Warbler is the northern equivalent. Within Audobon's there are three races while the Myrtle group contains two races. These two groups were once split but are now generally considered to represent a single species, with Audobon's being a short distance migrant or sedentary (depending on race) while the Myrtle is a long distance migrant and hence more prone to vagrancy  Male and female Audobon's are readily distinguished from Myrtle by their bright yellow throats which in Myrtle is off white to white. However, first winter birds such as that at High Shincliffe are more subtle with Myrtle having a more extensive pale throat wrapping around the ear coverts (as can be seen in the above photograph) and a more heavily streaked breast.