Friday 16 November 2012


Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) photographed by Steve Fletcher.

At last ... after several questionable records, we have the first sighting of a Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) in Extremadura, although this will have to be accepted by the Spanish Rarities Committee. It was found near Madroñera (Cáceres), on November 12, 2012 by Colin Jewitt and Juan Carlos Molina. Accompanied by Steve Fletcher they returned the next day, but were unable to relocate the bird.

This tiny warbler, which somewhat resembles a Firecrest, is the commonest Siberian passerine seen in Western Europe. Its breeding range spans the Russian taiga and winters in southern Asia. But migration between the two is not always straightforward and a part of the population moves west  during autumn. So hundreds of Yellow-browed Warblers, possibly juveniles are mostly seen in northwest Europe (UK, Netherlands, Northern France ...) during the months of September and October. They then head east to Asia by the same way they arrived. But not all. Some will drop southward reaching the Iberian Peninsula. So, in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands 77 records have been approved up until 2009. The dates are somewhat later than in the north and occur mostly in October and November, especially in the Mediterranean coastal provinces and Andalusia, being rarer in the north and almost nonexistent in the interior. It seems that these birds, or at least some,  winter further south, at some unknown location in Africa. This pattern suggests the presence in the Canary Islands (with 17 confirmed records until 2009),  there are fully documented winter examples in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura of birds staying for months (for example, from October to December to March or April). On the mainland Spain there are also some spring records, perhaps wintering birds returning to Russia, these sighting dates being rare in more northerly countries.