10 May 2011

Leaf Warblers in the leaves............


I took a couple of brief looks at the bushes next to the local river and they were full of warblers..........

Rather like in the UK there are 3 breeding species of phylloscopus warblers in Hokkaido. Eastern Crowned, Sakhalin Leaf and Arctic Warblers. The above one is an Eastern Crowned Warbler and this one is a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.


Eastern Crowned (let's call them ECW) are very common indeed and are greener with a diagnostic head pattern, they also have a paridae like song that is one of the most familiar sounds of the summer forest.




There must have been a dozen or more ECWs flitting around in 2 or 3 small trees, very difficult to track with a slowish lens plus it was pretty dark in some of the places too..............




There were only 2 or 3 Sakhalin Leaf Warblers. These are browner and have a loud metallic call (and a weird Clangers-like song). They only breed in north Japan and Sakhalin (a large Siberian island to the north of Hokkaido), there is a very similar mainland east Asian species (Pale Legged Leaf Warbler) from which it was recently split.




The third phylloscopus species, the Arctic Warbler,  doesn't usually arrive until the 3rd or 4th week of May and seems to be less common than the others. I don't see so many in spring, possibly they pass through unnoticed as the foliage thickens. They leave later than the others though, I see lots of them in late September to mid October (the ECW/SLWs pass through in August when the foliage is at its thickest and anyway I'm on the beach looking for waders at that time). They have a very distinctive buzzing call and trilling song, I sometimes hear them in the forest at Mat Hakodate in early June.

Like the UK there are 10 or so rarer phylloscopus vagrants, many of which are rarities in the UK too (Dusky, Raddes, Yellow Browed etc). I hope to stumble across some of these although I find these kind of warblers very tricky to ID. I can manage the 3 common ones because of their calls but when one individual (probably in autumn so with worn adult plumage or an immature) is silently flitting around behind the leaves................I don't know about that TBH.

Willow Warblers, Wood Warblers and Chiffchaffs are sought after rarities here by the way.......

I saw another male Blue and White Flycatcher today as well as Japanese White-eye, Dusky Thrush, other unidentified thrushes, Hawfinch and a flyover Great Egret. Yesterday I also saw Peregrine ans the last of the winter Teal. The flock of Russet Sparrow remains (20 or so birds) but they are very shy and fly off if I even look in their general direction. Before this week I had only ever seen them once in Hakodate, I wonder if this flock will stay and breed in the small park near my flat.........

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2 comments:

  1. Great shots of both of the leaf warblers, especially the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler! I haven't seen this one yet, but its relative Pale-legged is a common winter visitor in Thailand. I can't really see the difference between the two. Such a nice collection of this rarely photographed species!

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