Hume’s Warbler in Northants … and how to see it

Hume’s Warbler, Hume’s Yellow-browed Warbler, Hume’s Leaf Warbler – it’s the same whichever way you cut it. Once regarded as a race of Yellow-browed, it was split by the BOU in the late nineties and, with approximately 123 UK records, it’s a national rarity.

This one, seen fleetingly on private land on 6th December, was initially identified as a Yellow-browed Warbler and the identification remained as such until yesterday afternoon (7th December), when it was seen well and heard calling frequently. Identification was confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt based on the diagnostic call, which differs markedly from Yellow-browed Warbler. For an example listen here.

Hume's Warbler, Northamptonshire, 7th December 2013 (Neil Hasdell)

Hume’s Warbler, Northamptonshire, 7th December 2013 (Neil Hasdell)

Assuming this record is accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee, this will be the first for Northamptonshire and only the second for an inland county following one at Westport Lake, Staffordshire on 20th December 1994 (although one in Essex in 2004 was also subsequently seen in Middlesex). However, it is not the first occurrence of this species in Northamptonshire. One discovered by Dave Jackson at Weston Mill, Northampton on 23rd-24th October 2010, remaining in deep sallow cover, was never seen well by local observers and its frequently uttered diagnostic call was impossible to sound record adequately against the background traffic noise from the nearby Nene Valley Way dual carriageway. As a result, the record found its way into the ‘not proven’ category of the British Birds Rarities Committee files.

Seeing it

At present there is no general access to the private Northamptonshire site. If the bird remains there is an intention to provide escorted access on Wednesday 11th December 2013. It is planned to accommodate three time slots of 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm for small numbers of birders only. Should anyone wish to attend please contact Neil McMahon neil.mcmahonoriole@btinternet.com who is arranging access and escorting observers on site. Anyone booking for the 9 am time slot is advised to be on-site in any event (the disadvantage of this early slot is that it may not be possible to confirm the presence of the bird by this time).

Please indicate which time slot is preferred. On confirming the appointment Neil will provide a rendezvous point and his mobile number.  Please be advised that there may be a delay in his being able to respond. Neil will visit the site early on Wednesday to establish if the bird is still present and update Birdguides and northantsbirds.com accordingly.  It is therefore advisable to monitor these websites on Wednesday for any relevant news.

Future access after Wednesday 11th December date may not be possible.

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One Response to Hume’s Warbler in Northants … and how to see it

  1. Pingback: The Week in Focus: 7th to 13th December 2013 |

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