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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

As predicted - monster rare makes landfall in UK

PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER ON PORTLAND (DORSET)


This Monday past (22 October), Pete & Debbie Saunders noticed an odd Phylloscopus warbler inhabiting shrubs in their back garden at Southwell on Portland (Dorset) late morning. Confused by its appearance, they quickly engaged in conversation with other Portland birders and invited several round to have a look at it. The bird showed reasonably well and was photographed and concensus on site was that it was an EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER - the first record for Dorset and only the third occurrence for the UK. Sadly, due to the nature of the site and the actions of the bird and the fact that the garden was private and parking was likely to pose a problem if the bird's presence was released nationally, it was decided to withhold news and invite just locally-based observers (and locally meaning only those residing on Portland). By about 1500 hours, everyone had departed, although one Weymouth birder happened upon the information by sheer fluke and managed to get in and see and photograph the bird. He was less inclined to believe it was an Eastern Crowned and felt it more likely to be an Arctic Warbler. Darkness then befell the garden, at which time it was estimated that as many as 27 people had seen the bird.

Martin Cade amongst others had obtained pretty decent photographs of the bird and it soon became clear that this was no Eastern Crowned or Arctic Warbler - it was in fact a PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER - the first record for the Western Palearctic ! Martin spent virtually the entire day on Tuesday in the garden with a full suite of mistnets but it had departed.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler has a fairly similar distribution as Chestnut-eared Bunting, a first-winter of which is still present today (2nd day) at the south end of Shetland Mainland just north of the Pool of Virkie at Eastshore midway between the A970 and the Ness Boating Club in long grass by the road between the lilac house and the garden with the abandoned bus.