Sunday 14 May 2017

Eastern Subalpine Warbler

Eastern Subalpine Warbler - Dawlish Warren - don't worry there will be much better photos of this bird elsewhere on line I'm sure!
For the first time in what must be weeks I had a lie-in this morning. Well 7am to be precise but that's two hours longer than usual for me at this time of year. I came downstairs to a text from Mark - 'Subalpine at the Warren'. Now I'm not normally one for twitching, as you know, but this was too much of a temptation. I've seen masses of Western Subalps (Spain, France etc), a few Moltoni's (Italy and Corsica) but no Easterns, so I had to chance it, plus it would be a Devon tick whatever it was. On  arrival at the Warren I met Kev and Bob and it quickly became apparent that it may not be easy to catch up with. Ivan had found it and Lee had seen it briefly but it had last been seen heading off across the golf course. The assembled birders included Mark Bailey, Brian Heasman, Andy Bond, Dave Jewell, Lee Collins and Bill McDonald. We began to fan out and go searching for it. I headed up towards the hide and had nearly reached the cut-through when Kev texted to say it was back in its original hawthorn. A short jog and some hurried walking later and I was stood with everybody else waiting for the bird to appear in some sallows behind the main pond. I got on it just as it flew out of the sallows and flew to another large clump, singing as it went. My first reaction on seeing it was how white it looked below. Not the orange of a Western that I was kind of expecting. It fortuitously chose to land on some bare twigs where it continued to sing right out in the open - a short warble - pleasing to the ear, being less scratchy than Whitethroat and more melodic. Bob very kindly let me look through his scope and I was met with a really stunning little male Subalpine, but one unlike any other I'd seen before. I was immediately struck at how the richly-coloured dark red throat contrasted with very white-looking underparts. Additionally it was a lovely pale powdery blue-grey up top with a nice broad white sub-moustachial stripe. The general consensus was now leaning  towards it being an Eastern Subalpine Warbler!
I would like to have stayed longer but I needed to head back home. It was great to catch up with everybody. I literally can't remember the last time I went to the Warren which is a shame as it's an exceptional little reserve. Weird to think I see it most days from Exmouth but go there so rarely.
Anyway a big thank you to Ivan for a fantastic find. One which many would agree has been an awful long time coming.

A tatty-looking migrant Painted Lady in our garden yesterday.


  1. Great stuff Matt seen some really good photos on line would have liked to have seen it but alas . Orcombe has done well nice Redstarts and blue head was good to see also. See you soon

  2. Great to hear from you Derek. Trust you're enjoying your travels. Orcombe has been good for Redstarts and Groppers but, to be honest, other migrants have been hard to come by. Look forward to your return. When do you think you'll be back? All the best. Matt