Monday, 1 June 2020

Black-billed Grasshopper Warbler

31st May

A few days ago I noticed a post from RA on twitter about an unusual Grasshopper W. I believe it was in Wales and had a black bill. Accompanying the post was an article from 'Dutch Birding' 2019 suggesting it might point to an Eastern form (Locustella naevia straminea).

Little did I expect to be staring at one, at close range, at East Chevington the very next day.

1st June

Today I returned to get more photos and to record its song.

Typical Grasshopper Warbler

Just for comparison these were photographed within the same hour although the light level dropped a little. ATi sent a British Birds article 2007. It was very thorough as always and highlighted the chance of a record being accepted was very low without 'in hand' measurements. (Hopefully none of the ringers do this, I'd rather not know than the bird being deliberately trapped.) I guess DNA samples (from excreta) may be a way forward.

This bird (black-billed one) sings in the open, very close to the hide at Chevington so I hope lots of people enjoy this curiosity. A bird has held territory for at least three years and has been well photographed in the past. I wonder if any one can find and post photos on twitter to see if the black bill was overlooked or whether it is a feature which develops with age.

Remember 'Every Day is a School Day'!

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