Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Phylloscopus jacobscreamcrackerii

Well whaddayaknow.... Elvis is dead, but autumn has not yet left the building! Eh? A Hume's Leaf Warbler turned up at the Donmouth yesterday. Malheureusement (that's a sophisticated 'bugger', in French) I didn't have the car today, but made a mental note to take my nockies into work just in case the opportunity to get away happened. Then of course this morning in my dash to get out of the door, I forgot them, which made it even more embarrassing when Ian Broadbent met me in the queue at the canteen this morning and asked if I wanted a lift down. 'But I don't have my binoculars!' Didn't matter... he had a spare pair. Get in! grabbed a biro and a bit of paper... up up and away!

The bird didn't take too much searching for when we got there - staying low in the bushes next to the shore, out of the wind. *That's* how I like my Phylloscs. On the ground. And alive. Alive is very important.
it was calling regularly, and that immediately grabbed attention - not like a Yellow-browed's piercing 'tsooeeee!', but still pretty loud. A slightly lower 'pheeeeeu' - almost monosylla
bic, but could just pick up at downturn at the end. This is the third one I've seen, and the first I haven't had to break my neck to get views of. We got good views too, so much so I was inspired to use my biro and bit of paper in a Mckinney-esque orgy of fine artwork.

Were I a conscientious rarity recorder I would produce a tidied-up, after-the-event sketch posing as a real field sketch like [censor - names deleted to protect the guilty], but being lazy, I'll leave my original sketch all perfect as baby jesus and all his little angels intended. Otherwise, grey-buff dirty macintosh uppers, off-white supercilium with no obvious yellow tones, obvious greater covert bar (white) but not much median covert (was convinced of 2 white-tipped feathers on right hand side and maybe something similar on left). Dark, white-edged tertials, and primary projection about 1/2 to 2/3 tertial length. No obviously contrasty dark secondary bar. Whitish underparts - no yellow. Largely black bill though saw v small amount of pale pink at base of lower mandible. Dark brown legs, but feet pinky-orange. Plumage would possibly nail it as Hume's, but there's no real clinching feature. Really needs the call, which is distinctive. We gave it a blast of Hume's call playback and it immediately responded, calling several times and coming close for a look. It also responded to Yellow-browed call, though less intensely (called once and didn't come closer), before responding strongly to Hume's again. Interesting. I'm willing to bet £25 it would have responded to Chiffchaff too, or a creaky door.

And it was a JOY to look through some binoculars that weren't scratched! Ian may have got the call on video, but I might go back tomorrow with the RememBird and get some more recordings. If it's still there. And another thing... you know that any bird with the word 'Hume's' in its name is going to be a cracker! Also 'Pallas's' - they're all crackers too. And don't get me started on 'Blyth's', 'Steller's' and 'Jacob's Cream'. They're all crackers.

Ken Dodd diversion...
What a lovely day. What a lovely day for running through a biscuit factory shouting: 'You're all crackers!'.. [30 minutes of jokes about taxman, followed by tired rendition of 'Happiness'].

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Hume's Short-toed Lark ... I rest my case !!!