1st April

An interesting day if not entirely satisfactory as the results on the putative bird of the day will not be with us for a while. In amongst the passage of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers came a bird appearing to show the features of Iberian Chiffchaff (see below) but only time will tell. Passage was limited to the commoner species around the obs including seven Rooks, 41 Wheatears, a Redstart, and 18 Blackcaps; at least 3 Short-eared Owls were also still about at the Bill. The sea was more productive with 16 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Divers, a pair of Black-headed Gulls, a Sandwich Tern and four Shelduck (seven Carrion Crows were also seen passing by far out to sea).

Elsewhere on the island, Reap Lane and the West Cliffs produced another (or potentially the same) Ring Ouzel, a fly-by Merlin, two Redstarts, 13 Wheatears and a three House Martins. Fortuneswell also scored big with a passage Red Kite that took a brief loop around the island before heading off once more. Finally, 4 Teal were settled off Chesil.

On the immigrant moth front, a Diamond-back Moth was at Ferrybridge in the evening.

Wheatear and Diamond-back Moth at Ferrybridge © Joe Stockwell:

We have a history with both confirmed and putative Iberian Chiffchaffs so the issues surrounding this morning's individual were not something that were entirely new to us. It was a bright Willow Warbler-esque bird (...the writer of these notes was quite sure he'd have passed it off as a WW if he'd have been rushing through phylloscs during a big fall) but was noticeably not as strikingly mossy-green above as eg the Verne Common Iberian Chiffchaff of 1999...

...it was long-winged (67mm - huge for a Chiffchaff) and had a long primary projection:

The 2nd primary fell more or less equal to the 7th primary (usually longer in Willow Warbler and shorter in Chiffchaff) and the 6th primary was (shallowly) emarginated (as per the two Chiffchaff species):

At first glance the presence of a moult limit in both the primaries and secondaries ought to strongly favour Iberian Chiffchaff (and enable it to be aged as a second calendar-year bird) although on close examination of the photographs we're now slightly perplexed as to exactly what's going on in both these feather tracts. There's no doubt that primaries 1-5 and secondary 6 are relatively new feathers and that primary 8 is a noticeably old feather but we're struggling to work out exactly the age of the other primaries and secondaries - it almost looks as if there are three generations of primaries (...presumably rather unlikely if it is a second calendar-year bird):

After release no calls/song were heard and an attempt to sound-lure the bird with recordings of Iberian Chiffchaff elicited no response photos © Martin Cade: