Saturday 4 September 2010

Hungry for a hippo'... EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER in East Yorkshire

After missing out on an alleged SYKES'S WARBLER in Northumberland a few weeks ago, this was one Hippolais that I was not prepared to miss. Upon arrival at the famous Old Fall Plantation on Flamborough Head, the afternoon sun had started to shift around to the wrong side of the bird's favoured feeding area. Had I arrived too late? A glimpse of a young Common Chiffchaff had the small crowd of birders shuffling briefly as did a juvenile Common Redstart a short while later. About thirty minutes then passed before I caught a glimpse of something chunky, pale and interesting within the depths of a hawthorn. To add to the excitement you could just make out its tail dipping occasionally. It had to be the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER. Suddenly the bird broke cover and flew a short distance around to the sun drenched side of the hedgerow. There was no way that I could claim a new addition to my British List on these views. A male Blackcap then appeared as if to tease the small assembled crowd.

I had no alternative but to remain patient. Finally, about a hour later a light 'tak' call could be heard. Soon afterwards a warbler appeared. This time there was doubting the identification as a classic example of Hippolais pallida bounded around the brambles and crab apple trees amongst the hedgerow. The bird continued to show well for around five minutes before it became much more elusive. Only very brief views were then obtained as the afternoon passed by.

EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER - Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire - September 2010
An excellent photograph by John Harwood


If accepted this bird may be only the fifteenth ever example of this species to grace British shores. The previous records are as follows:
  1. 1967 - Isle of May, Fife - 24th to 26th September - trapped and eaten by a Great Grey Shrike
  2. 1967 - Sandwich Bay, Kent - 27th September - trapped
  3. 1984 - St Mary's, Isles of Scilly - 16th to 26th October
  4. 1985 - St Mary's, Isles of Scilly - 17th to 27th October
  5. 1995 - Fair Isle, Shetland - 5th to 13th June - trapped on the 5th
  6. 1995 - Benacre, Suffolk - 12th to 13th August
  7. 1998 - St Agnes, Isles of Scilly - 24th September to 8th October
  8. 1999 - Portland Bill, Dorset - 4th to 5th July - trapped
  9. 2000 - Collieston, Highland - 13th to 21st September - 1st winter trapped on the 15th
  10. 2002 - Sandwick & Hoswick, Shetland - 18th to 28th August - adult trapped on the 18th
  11. 2003 - Portland Bill, Dorset - 31st August only - 1st winter trapped
  12. 2008 - Portland Bill, Dorset - 17th May only - trapped
  13. 2008 - Foula, Shetland - 23rd to 26th September
  14. 2009 - Fair Isle, Shetland - 21st June only
  15. 2010 - Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire - 1st to 3rd September
Information taken from the excellent Rare Birds Where & When - Volume One by Russell Slack and with additional help from the Rare Bird Alert website.

The EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER twitch just south of the Old Fall Plantation.

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