normal Eastern Orphean Warbler St Agnes - 1w 12th-17th October & reported 20th October

10 months 4 weeks ago #1406 by Paul Chapman
This bird, found by Neil and Paul Wright, has now been reidentified as this species and a first for Britain to the satisfaction of Lars Svennson. It is an identification supported by at least two former or current BBRC members together with the Bird Information Services.

The initial difficulty was the interpretation of Jim Almond's tail shot which I and most others interpreted as showing a fully white outer tail feather. (Apologies to all who I told that I thought that it was a Western despite the undertail coverts. Mea culpa!!) This has now been shown to be false by the analysis of Bob Flood and Ashley Fisher and that interpretation is now supported clearly by the outer tail photo of Adrian Webb which shows a clear Eastern Orphean tail pattern - a white wedge fading and an otherwise dark inner web.

The original tail pattern interpretation had been considered to trump the undertail coverts by most despite the fact that it has been established that there were dark chevrons on at least the three longest undertail coverts.

The comments of Lars Svennson is however worth bearing in mind for future specific identification as the undertail coverts are perhaps easier to see with certainty than the outer tail feather pattern - "There is no way a Western could have such well-marked grey central streaks or blotches on the longer undertail-coverts."

So can this species now be added as a provisional species pending acceptance by BBRC/BOURC in the normal way?

(It would be astonishing if those committees went against Lars Svennson's opinion and the photos showing the two diagnostic features however. All very reminiscent of the Pagham Harbour Lesser Sandplover where initial opinions on the size misled people.)

All the best

Self-interested Paul Chapman
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10 months 4 weeks ago #1407 by Paul Chapman
Just to add a picture of the relevant Svennson paper on identification showing the outer tail feather pattern (having checked on copyright) together with links to the undertail coverts and outer tail pattern from Adrian Webb:-

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All the best

Paul
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10 months 4 weeks ago #1408 by Andy Musgrove
Thanks Paul, now added as a "pending" to the BOU checklist on BUBO

Cheers

Andy
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10 months 4 weeks ago #1409 by Paul Chapman
Thanks Andy. Duly added. It will be interesting to see how the record gets on (and indeed whether the marked UTCs remain as the apparent clinching feature in favour of Eastern).

Does it also survive as a species on British & Irish list taxonomy so should be added to that as an option?

All the best

Paul
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