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Sunday, 1 November 2009

More images of the Church Cove phyllosc and more on vocabulary

More images taken yesterday of the Church Cove Phyllosc illustrating the amount of yellow in the plumage and other features (Steve Rogers, top two, and Mark Stirland below)
I have also received this note from Mike Prince in Bangalore
I have not seen the photos or much of a description of the Church Cove bird but I can certainly attest to the variation in Greenish Warbler, both in terms of plumage and call. Here in the Bangalore area Greenish is a common winterer (there’s one calling outside my window now) whilst I’ve struggled to confirm Green Warbler. The latter is the regular species in some areas of south India, for example on the coast in Goa where Greenish is a lot less common, although the pattern is reversed inland. Often when I’ve seen a bird resembling Green I’ve not been convinced by the call, and I’ve heard birds that sound to my ear more like Green but haven’t been positive on plumage features!

What I do find is that the calls I hear of Greenish are often not easy to pigeonhole into disyllabic (the classic Greenish) or trisyllabic (typical of Green). Instead many seem to be more slurred and not easy to pick out individual syllables. There was a useful webpage with song and call recordings of both, which I think was on the Dutch Birding website but I can’t find it now (this isn’t the page but does have some useful recordings: When I listened to these some time ago I was struck by how obvious the differentiation was, and how different to my experience of birds further east. I also remember reading a quote from Lars Svensson which suggested that adult Greenish may have a more disyllabic call than the more slurred call of first-winters.

Potentially the late date for the Church Cove bird could suggest a more easterly origin and, if the bird is a first-winter, confirming the id could be even trickier than more typical early autumn birds. Hope some good photos and sound recordings have been possible!

Mike Prince

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