Willow Warbler, Portishead

Willow Warbler

It was a relief to get singing birds today after trying to separate yesterday’s Portbury Wharf individual from a chiffchaff. This is not as clear-cut as the Collins Bird Guide has it. I still find leg colour the easiest distinction – pale for willow, dark for chiffchaff. Primary projection is probably more reliable but you need to be above the bird to judge – not easy with arboreal species. As for face patterns… well, I’ve never noticed any consistent difference.

Ah, the phylloscopus, or leaf, warblers. You gotta love ‘em. All the way from willow to greenish, and its split – two-barred, warbler. Unlike Collins, the IOC sticks the more easily identified Pallas’s and wood warblers in the middle of the phylloscs and well away from the crest family. In fact, pretty much all the other warblers come between the two families, unlike in the traditional order.

Speaking of wood warblers it’s about time for their appearance although that other summer visitor to our deciduous woodlands, the redstart, should be next up. The migrants come thick and fast now.

The next one that gets to Portishead will kick my car-free – nay, pedestrian – year list up to 89, past my 1997 Upton Warren record. I’m a little disappointed at the lack of competition over at Bubo. Someone must surely be doing better on foot than I am?

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