Rare Bird Description - Marsh Warbler

The Bird Finder General reports from the Mediterranean
The Bird Finder General
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Ay Nik - CYPRUS

Rare Bird Description - Marsh Warbler

Postby The Bird Finder General » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:28 am

For those interested and with reference to Roger's post - Please see below for the Rare Bird Description that I have submitted to Birdlife Cyprus. I await the decision of the good and great of Cyprus Birding. It will however stimulate some lively debate and it would appear there is a gap in knowledge as Eastern "Caspian" Warbler has not officially been recorded despite it being a potential good species. They have all formerly been officially reported as Reed Warbler. The formatting may have been corrupted a little - but you should get the picture.

Birdlife Cyprus

INDEX NO...................................
NAME of observer


Contact tel/fax/email: birder639@yahoo.com 23 962021
ADDRESS of observer

Operations Officer
Command Group
JSSU (Cyprus)
Number of birds:

Oroklini Marsh 10 Aug – 3 juvs

Akhna Dam 11/12/13 Aug – 2 adults

10 Aug 12

11 Aug 12 Time

1800 – 1900

1730 - 1800 Location (include co-ordinates if site previously unknown)

Oroklini Marsh 10 Aug

Akhna Dam 11/12/13 Aug

10 Aug – 3 Juveniles

11 Aug – 2 Adults Sex

Unknown Distance to birds

10 Aug down to 5 metres

11/12 Aug 10 & 20 metres Duration of observation:

10 Aug 20 mins

11/12 Aug intermittent 30 mins
Optical equipment used:

Telescope Swarovski 20 – 40 Zoom
Binoculars Swarovski 8x30
Camera NIKON Coolpix P5100 Weather/light conditions

Clear & Bright although with the sun going down


Cyprus recorder has photos of both occurrences
1 bird on each occasion

Occurrence 1. 4 photographs (numbered P1 to P4).
Occurrence 2. 3 photographs (numbered P5 to P6). Name of companion/s or were you alone?

Alone Who initially made the identification?

Mark Easterbrook followed by photographic consultation with The Cyprus Recorder & JD Sanders former Cyprus Recorder and member of the Rarities Sub-Committee for the juvenile birds. No consultation for 2nd occurrence.
Total number of years birdwatching: 15

Number of years birdwatching in Cyprus:

Jun 1997 – Jul 2000 & Jun 2012 - Present
Other species present for comparison:
a: Alongside the bird:

10 Aug – NIL

11/12 Aug – Cetti’s Warbler & Sedge Warbler

b: Nearby: NIL Names of Ornithological organisation/s to which you belong:

Army Ornithological Society

RSPB South Lincolnshire Bird Group

Observer's previous experience of this species

Marsh Warbler

Cyprus – Dates kindly supplied by the Recorder:

1 field notes Aspro Dam Pools 19 April 99
2 juvs to 13-Aug Akhna Dam 02 Aug 99
1 ad to 8-Aug Akhna Dam 06 Aug 99
2 adult and juv Akhna Dam18 Aug 99

Israel Mar 2011 – Adult Spring
Rainham Marshes UK May 2006 – Adult Spring
Africa - unknown dates - Various Previous experience of similar species

Experience of all other WP acrocephalus members excluding Basra Reed Warbler and Cape Verde Cane Warbler and including many African and Asian family group members.

Additionally, experience of all Hippolais family members.

Reference book/s used to confirm ID:

Handbook of the birds of the Western Palearctic
Collins Field guide to birds of Europe and the middle East
Poynser Birds of the Middle East
CIRCUMSTANCES OF OBSERVATION (describe how the bird/s were found)

I visited Oroklini Marsh on the evening of the 10 Aug 12. Looking at a reed bed I noticed a warbler species working its way along the bottom of the reeds. It was chased by another and finally a third came into view. By chance I was distracted by a Water Rail that was also present. Returning to the warblers that were behaving strangely. They moved out of the reeds and were on the sandy soil in amongst the leaf litter. I considered this highly unusual for a Reed Warbler so observed more closely and began to take photographs. As they returned to the reeds not more than 5 metres away, I noted a long primary projection and the white tips to the primaries – quickly realising that the birds in question must be Marsh Warblers.

On the 11 Aug, knowing that I had previously seen Marsh Warblers at Akhna Dam some years ago I visited the site in the evening. Watching a Cetti’s and Sedge Warbler, again I was distracted by movement and another 2 warblers chasing each other. Calling and behaving as the previous night’s birds had, I photographed them and scoped them quickly and more easily realising on this occasion that they were 2 adult Marsh Warblers – see description for details and differences.

The birds were still present at Akhna Dam on 12 Aug.
(For example: general impression/size/shape/head/upperparts/underparts/tail/wings/bare parts/voice)

10 Aug 12 – Oroklini Marsh The Occurrence of 3 Juvenile Marsh Warblers

I quickly realised that the birds in view were not Eurasian Reed Warblers. Observing intently, I noted the following:

The primary projection was long almost giving a Cuckoo like profile (P1/P4). The primaries were edged white and were evenly spaced (P1) – also retrospectively confirmed through photographic evidence. The supercillium whilst noticeable was indistinct and not what I have observed with Eurasian Reed Warblers. This coupled with a white more obvious eye-ring and what appeared to be more rounded head (P2) gave what the reference books describe as a “kinder” appearance. In any event the head shape was not as acutely sloped as that of a Eurasian Reed Warbler. Until I read the text, the rufous tones on the rump (P1) caused me concern, however, this is a recognised feature of Marsh Warbler and led me to age the birds as juveniles – all birds being present being identical.

I made a final check of the primary projection to eliminate the possibility of Blyth’s Reed Warbler the length of the primaries gave the birds an elongated larger look than that of Eurasian Reed Warbler. The tails were rounded at the tips (P3).

The legs were dark although not black and the eyes were dark (I cannot confirm a dark iris). The bill was a light colour on the lower mandible and darker above.

The call was not unlike that of a Bluethroat (subjective), (higher pitched buzz) and being totally unlike a Eurasian Reed Warbler added to my conclusions.

What drew my attention to the birds is that their behaviour was totally unlike that of Eurasian Reed Warbler and although difficult to describe was an obvious difference to me.

11/12/13 Aug 12 Akhna Dam The Occurrence of 2 Adult Marsh Warblers (possibly 3 on 13th)

The 2 birds present on the evenings of the 11, 12 & 13 Aug at Akhna Dam were much easier to identify being adults. The birds were more obviously grey on the mantle, wings and back and whiter on the undersides than a Eurasian Reed Warbler with no hint of any rufous (P6). Once more the long primary projection was obvious (P6) and there was an obvious yellow wash to the sides of the flanks. Additionally (P5), the dusky areas to the sides of the neck and upper breast were also present. The obvious broken white eye ring (P5) was more pronounced than on the juveniles of the day before at Oroklini and the indistinct supercilluim was also difficult to view. Furthermore, the overall shape of the head being rounded was a relevant feature. Again, tails were rounded.

Calls were exactly the same as the birds at Oroklini and once more behaviour and jizz were obviously different to that of Eurasian Reed Warbler.

Note: On the 13th, 2 birds were present together with another in a different reed stand. However, they were never seen together. 3 could possibly have been present.

Which characters do you consider exclude similar species?

For an observer with experience of the species and look alikes, the long primary projection excludes both Blyth’s Reed and Eurasian Reed. More visible and obvious eye ring also excludes the latter. Overall colouration of both occurrences excludes Eurasian Reed especially in the second with a yellowish suffusion to the flanks of the adults. Although the rufous tones on the juvenile birds caused initial confusion until it was realised that this is a feature of juvenile Marsh Warblers.

The rounded tails discounted the closely related Hippolais genus.

The overall look of the bird with its long primary projection gave a jizz unlike that of Eurasian or Blyth’s Reed Warblers
Date submitted:

15 Aug 12

When completed please return to the recorder.
Colin Richardson at richar@cytanet.com.cy
PO Box 62893
8069 Paphos
Been There - Seen It
The BFG.

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