Thursday, 27 December 2012

A new approach to SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF identification

As a result of DNA work carried out in The Netherlands on a large number of Chiffchaffs trapped and ringed during 2009-2011, it has now been proven that those 'grey and white' chiffchaffs that I have recently been recording as 'abietinus intergrades' are actually SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS and reveals the true variability of this species (see Dutch Birding 34: 386-392).
I had previously stated that UK-acceptable Siberian Chiffchaffs would have to conform to the Dusky Warbler-type paler brown, dark-billed and black-legged birds but this new study has revealed that those 'grey' birds are diagnosable as pure tristis rather than intergrades. This new information suggests that Siberian Chiffchaff is a much commoner passage and winter visitor to Britain than has recently been recognised.

STEJNEGER'S STONECHAT - first record for Britain

A STEJNEGER'S SIBERIAN STONECHAT remained on Texel (The Netherlands) from 8-23 October 2012. Remarkably, the same bird was relocated at Portland Bill (Dorset) on 24 October 2012, remaining on-site for two days. Martin Cade trapped and ringed the bird at Portland, DNA taken from a retrieved feather confirming the identification of this bird, recently found to be specifically distinct from maura Siberian Stonechat.

Very few leading listers connected with the bird, despite its appearance at the same time as an adult Daurian Shrike.

Monday, 10 December 2012

My First New Bird of 2012

This fabulous, remarkably confiding first-winter HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL at Aldeburgh in Suffolk represented my first new British bird of 2012 - number 572.