Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Arctic, foxed - SW Thailand

As mentioned in the one of the recent Bangkok posts, the variation in plumage of Arctic Warblers has been surprising and educational; with a recent split into (at least) three cryptic species (see e.g. here) and a long-established fetish for Phylloscopus warblers (that's what you get for growing up at Flamborough), it was a pleasure giving them a little more attention.

And so onto this bird, found feeding in the mangroves within the excellent fall of migrants on the 6th (see previous post), in Krabi - worth drawing attention to for several reasons (one of them being that it played nicely for the camera); also, having failed to find Pale-legged Leaf Warbler so far on the trip (still the case as I write...) it got plenty of undivided attention.

Firstly because of its feeding behaviour - while several 'normal' Arctic Warblers fed typically (throughout the foliage, but mainly in the upper canopy) above it, this bird spent all of its time either at eye level or below, avoiding gaining further height - a (supposedly) good feature for Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.

Secondly because of the obvious, strong contrast between the bird's crown/nape (cold, dark green) and mantle (brighter olive green), particularly evident in e.g. photo two; another good feature for Pale-legged Leaf Warbler. Throw in the parculiarly bright, orange lower mandible - which from most angles appeared entirely unmarked in the field (see the photo below), and little seemed to add up.

It is, however, clearly wrong for e.g. Pale-legged Leaf Warbler on several counts, and is more than likely just an odd 'Arctic' Warbler; personal experience with this particular group of Phylloscs is pretty much limited to the last six weeks or so out here, and so any comments / observations more than welcome.

NB with no decent field guide to work with out here, the excellent image archive on the Oriental Bird Club website is usually the first port of call for anything odd, and it's worth bringing up their Pale-legged Leaf and Arctic Warbler selections alongside those in this post (see here).