Saturday, 17 December 2011


Today early in the afternoon I was driving up to the Karst, on a small road about 10 minutes away from home. When I slowed down at a narrow passage in an area of scrub, I noticed a small bird flying off from a roadside bush. The thing that striked me most were the white sides of the tail, diagnostic in flight (almost Chaffinch/Rock Bunting like). The bird landed almost immediately on another bush and even if I was driving, I was still able to see it completely well from the car: a LESSER WHITETHROAT!! After few metres I stopped by the road, took my bins and headed back to the spot. I re-found the bird almost immediately: it was very active and hard to see well. It stayed on some bushes for a few minutes so I managed to get some more views. Yes, clearly a Lesser Whitethroat... but at that moment I couldn't notice any other relevant character. The flanks were a bit buffish, but the overall colour seemed like that of a normal Lesserthroat - not more greyish, nor uniformly brown. The greyish head was obvoiusly darker that the brown back. It didn't call - thanks God! (I hate warblers's calls!). That's more or less all I could notice.
A Lesser Whitethroat in mid Dicember is of course out of season, thus suggesting one of the Asian subspecies. Due to the colouring on the tail (very striking white sides) it could be assigned to either the subspecies halimodendri or minula. But unfortunately the mistery remains and we cannot confirm anything. Let's say "putative Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat" then.
Anyway, even if a usual Lesser Whitethroat, it still remains a great record due to the extremely late date!
See an arcticle about the Asian subspecies
Note: the above photo depicts a "usual" Lesser Whitethroat, photographed a few years ago.

Local patch: quite a lot of bird movement in the garden this morning. Top sighting was a MARSH TIT heard calling in some nearby trees. A few days ago I also heard a Marsh Tit around in the patch, but forgot to report it. This is only the third record of the species for the garden... even if it's quite common in the woodland just behind my home. They tend to wander around a bit in winter, but they don't seem to visit my garden so often. Several Blue Tits around, especially on the RSPB birdfeeder and fatball (daily sighting), lots of Chaffinches, 2 Black Redstarts (one nice male - see pic above), 1 Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Buzzard mobbed by Hoodies, 7 Greenfinches, Green Woodpecker, Jay ect. On the sea of interest (from my window): 1 Sandwich Tern, 1 Great Crested Grebe flying SE at 9.50 am and about 3 adult winter Mediterranean Gulls, within a flock of Bh Gulls.