25 September 2012

(Blyth’s) Reed Warblers - Ringing at Alba Marshes (Bahrain)

Nicole went on a net round when we were at Alba Marsh and came back with three birds. She handed me one and I took it out of the bag to be confronted with a small bird superficially looking like a Chiffchaff but with a different shaped bill and different colour. It was obviously a Reed Warbler type but was very small and Nicole said she had another one in one of the other bags. I suspected it may be a Blyth's Reed Warbler so we checked Svensson to see the wing formula and wing length of Blyth’s Reed Warbler both of which fitted (wing length 60mm). We then checked all the other formulas for Blyth’s Reed Warbler with again all fitting the species. The second bird Nicole had was also another Blyth’s Reed Warbler type and I could remember Brendan had ringed one before in Bahrain but I am uncertain where it was caught but it was on 13th August 2007. Blyth’s Reed Warbler is a vagrant to Bahrain and has only been recorded a few times so to catch two together would be unprecedented. Both birds are shown in the photographs with the top three showing one bird and the bottom four showing the second bird. As there were two birds both Nicole and I ringed one.
These birds now appear to be very small Reed Warblers as Yoav Perlman from Israel said to me pers comm that they sometimes catch Reed Warblers there with wings less than 60mm (females) and some down to 58mm. This is not mentioned in any of the ringing books but is a valuable piece of information for me ringing in a similar area to Israel. Yoav also mentioned that the birds have very deep notches, very rounded wings and very short primary projections and it is only the emargination on P4 or not that separates them on wing formula from Blyth's Reed Warbler. Our birds did not have emiginations on P4. I would like to thank Yoav very much for this information and helping me with the identification of these birds