Saturday 3 February 2018

Lesser Whitethroat

I was lucky enough to be invited to see this Lesser Whitethroat at a private address in Exmouth today. It's the first wintering individual that I've seen in Devon, so I was keen to see what it looked like. There's a good possibility of it being one of the eastern races, most likely 'blythi' (Siberian Lesser Whitethroat), but assessing exact colour tones is pretty tricky, and seeing the extent of white in the outer tail feathers even trickier.
I enjoyed good views of the bird, at close range, and was struck by the brown tones on the rear of the crown, indicative of blythi. This isn't always apparent in the photos but was consistently noted in the field. Note how the colours vary in this small selection of photos, but photo number three is clearly overexposed.
A huge thank you to the occupants. It was a pleasure to spend time watching this bird in a wonderful garden, jam-packed with birdlife. Hopefully, further photos will help the identification. In the mean time if anyone can shed any further light on the likely origins of this bird I'd be very grateful.

Note the presence of some white in the supercilium, that changes in prominence depending on the bird's posture.

A slightly over-exposed shot but note the slightly paler wing panel in the secondaries.

This photo probably gives the most accurate representation of colour tones though it doesn't really show the warm brown tones, creeping up from the mantle on to the rear crown.

This photos shows a warm brown tone to the rear crown and light apricot wash to the underparts, which contrasts with the white throat.


  1. Wow - what a stunning looking bird! I wonder how many of these critters are dotted about the UK in the winter. Be great to get a shot of an open tail though. If you can, co back, but instead of taking pics video it the whole time. If it is toing and froing to a bird feeder at least one video still should show the pattern of the white. Nice post.

  2. Hi Steve - many thanks for your comment. If you're reading this I guess you've seen the above post - an apparently all white outer tail feather looks promising. It was great to watch today's bird. The spring LWTs that I get on Orcombe never show as well as this bird! I guess, as a ringer, you'd love to trap one of these. They're great. All the best. Matt