Tuesday, May 10

Syke's Warbler@IBRCE

Almost gave up ringing this morning- it's the independence day of Israel, and I had less than two hours sleep last night I …anyway we  opened the nets with very low expectations.
The first bird I approached during the first nets round was an Iduna Warbler  that stroke me as being small, and rounded winged. When I got to the ringing desk and started processing the bird I realized I might be handling a Syke's Warbler. Juan and me started to examine the bird deeply and after a few minutes became certain that whatever hs bird might be, it's definitely not one of the usual Eastern Olivaceous Warblers we have been catching daily for the last two months. The bird showed Brownish tones to the wings and upper parts, very short and rounded wings- 62.5 mm, P2=P7/8, and somewhat shorter bill.
I called Barak, who was just watching wolfs in the middle of nowhere. As we went through the details we agreed that the potential of this bird being a Syke's is not bad. An hour later, when barak arrived at the IBRCE, we kept on studying the bird extensively. Using the net, and some literature, we realized that measurements alone are not enough for cutting the ID of this bird , while all the measurements we took were good for Rama but still in the lower overlap zone with Palida.
The features that we noted –
-          Brownish grey bird, with pale underparts.
-          Grey sides to the breast, and buff hue on lower flanks.
-          Shortish bill, slightly attenuated with pointed tip. Bill-Skull- 15.8mm.
-          Short wings and tail. 62.5mm 48.5mm respectively.
-          Rounded wings- P2=P7/8. Usually, P2=P6/7 in Palida and never 7/8.
-          Whitish supercylium  going a bit behind the eye.
-          Dark eye stripe ending a few mm behind the eye.
-          Small head, slightly steeper forehead than Palida(compared at real time).
-          No evident whitish wing panel. The wing looked uniform brown, with brownish fringes to secondries.
-          Brown tone to upper tail coverts.
-          Prominent, well defined white fringes to inner web of T6 t, as well as to tips of T5.
-             When the bird was released, Barak and me watched it jumping in an acacia tree and got very good views, the face pattern, head shape and general colors were seen well, and added up-flicks of the tail- very different to any Palida I have ever seen.
The bird didn’t show dark tip to lower mandible, and only a very slight darker border to supercylium. The bird also lacked any emergenation to P6. After going through some records from Europe, it seems that quite a few Rama birds lack these features.
All in all, we feel very good with the identification of this bird as Syke's Warbler. We would appreciate any comment on the bird.
And now some photos:

and some more photos of the bird:

If accepted, this is Israel's 5th record of Syke's Warbler!
Other than that, we had very few birds today. A dark morph adult male of Crested Honey Buzzard passed overhead is worth mentioning.


  1. Great stuff. As far as I'm aware the width of the bill is important as is the actual shape - concave or convex - when looking from above.

  2. Hi Re'a, nice one! Did you hear it call? As in my experience, call is a very good (and easy) way to separate them. Sykes' sound EXACTLY like 2 stones tapping together, much more than Stonechats do.

    ATB, Mike
    (We took you birding in our car and you showed us a bunch of larks!)