Interesting warbler

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Subject: Interesting warbler
From: "Shaun Bagley" <>
Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2008 20:34:08 +1000

Today at Kelly’s Swamp across from the Bittern hide in the willows just leafing out and catkin full, there was a bird with a light mantle around the shoulders, that is clearly a warbler of northern origin, but just a bit different from the Reed Warblers in the reeds below.  The question I have, for those more familiar with Asian warblers than myself, is whether this is a different species?


I observed this bird for about half an hour, 4:30-5-00pm Sunday, in the willow tree directly across from the Bittern hide at Kelly’s. I mention this because the behaviour did not seem to replicate the “present and hide” behaviour of the very vocal Reed Warblers in Kelly’s.  This bird moved fairly slowly amongst the catkins of the willow for a comparatively long time in this tree, compared to usual observations of Reed Warblers. It was not  until a White-plumed Honeyeater challenged it, that it moved back to the reeds. It has a long, slightly upward angled bill of dark colour which it uses to explore the catkins at a leisurely pace. The bird appears, in the afternoon sun, to have an eyebrow of similar _expression_ to the Reed Warbler.  Its underparts are unstriped but with a yellow wash forward and a buffy tint rearwards.  Perhaps most striking, after the mantle,  is a pale spot (whitish) above the beak, which reminds me of our Robin females.


That having been said, I think this may be a leucistic variant of the Reed Warbler; the only thing that will consume me, if someone else does not see this bird, is that it is not behaving as the rest of the pack.  But then tall poppies are made of these ...





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