My decent(ish) finds in Feb 2012: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Water Pipit Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Smew Loe Pool 01/02

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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Green(ish) Warbler - part 3

Managed to get down before first light and nail a recording of the bird as it emerged from roost calling. Downloadable from here. Recorded with a Seinheisser ME66 onto an Olympus LS-10 Linear PCM digital recorder as a wav file (thanks to Thor Veen for the loan of the equipment - Dave when am I getting mine back!).  Excuse the rather poor quality and sounds of Stuart Piner getting the assembled masses onto the bird. It was quite distant with a lot of background noise. A mp3 version kindly cleaned by Hugh Harrop using a high-pass filter is available from here. In my opinion very similar to this call of a normal Greenish on the Xeno-Canto website by Wouter Halfwerk in Kiat Ngong wetland.

A recording of a Green Warbler by Stuart Fisher in Kumarakom, India is available here and one of a Two-barred Greenish by James Eaton at Mondulkiri in Cambodia here. Note the lack of House Sparrow like "chirrup" quality to the Greenish Warbler, present in both Two-barred and Green. The Church Cove bird also lacks this.

The top sonogram was kindly created by Hugh Harrop is a high temporal resolution version of two of the clearer calls. The bottom version, created by Neil Hagley is a longer version of the recording. Both are a near-perfect match of the Greenish Warbler sonograms published in the 2001 Dutch birding article by van der Vliet et al, available here (if you subscribe to RBA - you can also get it with the 7 day free trial), Green has a W-shaped sonogram and Two-barred even more peaks and troughs. There are a whole bunch of useful songs and sonograms here.

Incidentally - there are some more photos of the bird here. The third one down initially struck me as particularly interesting as it does suggest that the bird had a more typical Green Warbler wing formula - i.e. P3 and P4 are the longest and P2 is between P6 and P7 in length. In Greenish P4 and P5 are generally (although not always) the longest and in only 14% of females and 9% of males is P2=P6-7 (see Dutch Birding article here). However, there are some more photos in the UK400Club blog here. On this photo, the wing formula is suggestive of Greenish - i.e. P4 & 5 look the longest and p2=P7-8. This demonstrates the hazard of determing wing formulae from photographs.


  1. From Magnus Robb:

    Dear Ilya,

    Good that you got a recording. It solves the i.d. in a jiff. This is a Greenish for sure. Greenish sounds like this all the way to Kazakhstan at least. I have recordings from there that I couldn't distinguish from European birds.

    As you would have realised from the DB article, Green Warblers have more complex calls. In sonagrams, Green tends to have more W-shaped calls, with more modulations (wavy lines). They really sound very different.

    Hope this won't be too big a disappointment for those who travelled furthest to see the bird!




  3. I have never seen Greenish, Arctic or Green warbler anywhere and personally I would have been ecstatic to find a Greenish on my patch. I do think there is a lot of wishful thinking amongst twitchers that creates more doubt than is necessary.

  4. Watcha mate

    I've managed to dig up a few bits and bobs on Turkish Green Warblers and it's a bit of a minefield with very little known for sure, especially on the western birds. Plumage can be rather dull, and calls can be very similar indeed to Greenish but whether a bird would give so many calls (Alan Lewis says 70+) that are entirely compatible with Greenish seems very unlikely...

    Looking forward to birding, beer and pool (and some Green/Green-ish/Greenish talk!) in a week or two!

  5. Cheers Tim Look forwards to catching up too mate. Would be interesting to find out about a bit more about the western Turkish Green. What do the bills look like (two-toned, or uniform horn?). Also any photos of 1st winters?

    That said, claiming the Church Cove as one smacks a bit of clutching at straws to me - surely the entire population only numbers a few hundred at most?

    I'd like to say I hope your pool skills are improving, but seem to recall getting my arse thoroughly whooped last time round, so it's probably me that should be practising!

  6. Hey there

    yes, sounds very unlikely indeed. I expect someone will record the Turkish birds next spring. It sounds as if although they CAN be 'very similar' they often sound 'different' with a third syllable being detectable at least now and then. And it's reasonable to expect that would be apparent over a long series of calls over a few days. And we thought our Greenish last year was a bit tricky eh?

    Pool skills are premier league these days... until the beer takes over.


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