Sunday, September 28, 2014

East Wind in the Willows

I'm in the process of putting together the next patch summary for the (very entertaining and productive) period of mid-September, and with so many migrants and quality birds I've happily more than enough material (photographic and otherwise) to fill, well, plenty of space - and thus it's worth singling out perhaps the most interesting species of the period, Willow Warbler.

This bird (also pictured above) was flushed almost from underfoot in the 'bomb crater' (a small, sheltered incline by the clifftop) and sat up briefly, allowing a few quick shots. Through the viewfinder of the camera, its pallid, washed-out overall colouration invited split second fantasies of perhaps an Iduna or similar.... next time perhaps...
A little context: 18th September, and the previous day had delivered me an early Yellow-brow and a candidate Siberian Lesser Whitethroat among a fine cast of fresh-in migrants. With easterly winds and thick fog dominating, an exhilarating session on Carr Naze - the very tip of dry land, and first contact for tired new arrivals after the North Sea crossing - produced a constantly changing roll-call of chats, warblers and more materialising in the sodden grasses and umbellifers of the clifftop.

This bird was feeding close by, and again momentarily sent the heart-rate speeding, mostly on account of its dark olive tones and particularly strong supercilium. Also pictured below. 
On high alert for something a little more left field, every bird invited scrutiny, and none were quite as simultaneously scary and fascinating as the Willow Warblers that skulked through the low cover. Although their subspecific identification (and indeed classification) is messy, it's still worth shining a light on the wide morphological variation between the simultaneous new arrivals. Great birds to study and chin-scratch over nonetheless, and its times like these when there's so much to learn and enjoy, you really don't need the rarity.

A bit more straightforward, and one of several lemon-yellow individuals in the same area of clifftop grassland. Photo taken on 18th.