11 December 2016

The weight of proof

So dear reader, remember I found a Yellow-browed Warbler last week due to its call.  I even took a couple of record shots, poor records shots.  I tweeted them and put them on here and sat back happy with my days travails. That was until Chris Batty of the RBA contacted me regarding said pictures asking if I had considered Hume's: 

"The combination of dull greyish tones to the mantle and crown, seemingly indistinct pale tips to the median coverts, absence of dark base to greater coverts, and dull-coloured feet points to Hume’s for me, and it must be worth trying to record the call"

I could see where he was coming from, the feet especially looked not as I would have expected.  Have I said the pictures were awful? Now Hume's would be fantastic, but that would mean a severe cock-up on my part over the call, which would not be fantastic.  I am pretty good with calls and song, I think, but it doesn't take much to undermine my confidence in my own abilities.  I passed his message on to a few of the guys for their thoughts–their experience of the execrable quality of some of my snaps were unanimous in favour of YBW.  Meanwhile RBA had gone for ?Hume's/YBW? on the news page.  This got me worrying that the Alex might be lined with hopeful visitors in the morning, so I would need to be there first thing to make sure my ears weren't playing tricks on me.  Then again the bird might not be there and self doubt would linger on.

I met up with Mr Lethbridge, who was out to clear this nonsense up once and for all, somewhere near Long Wood in the fog.  As we approached Alex the Yellow-browed did the decent thing and called, audibly and clearly. And clearly Yellow-browed.  We both texted the affirmation out and that would be that.

Oh no, RBA still carried the Hume's YBW option.  We would need a recording to convince them and now more people were getting in on the act.  Come Sunday and I am out by the Alex and our bird is still there and when he feels like it, is going for it.  Eventually it dawns on me to take a video to get a sound recording, which worked quite well...

Of course what we needed was Stu Fisher or Dave-Darryl Lambert to come and do a proper job on it,  Stu obliged and this is what a hand held recorder can do....  ... job done: RBA and Lee Evans happy

Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) · call
Stuart Fisher
Wanstead Flats, London , United Kingdom

Then Mr Harvey turns up and takes some pretty smart shots of the bird.

"YBW? Are you sure?  Looks good for a Hume's from those pics"


  1. Never really understood what the fuss was about, always a YBW. Good to hear people are keeping up with what's on the patch, and learning.

  2. Well done Nick thanks again on getting me a YBW on my London list!