DNA to the rescue…

Sub-Alp (downsized) IE

Subalpine Warbler….or is it?


Tail pattern now helps to ID it (as well as DNA)

team pic

The island residents taking a few pictures before release

Bluethroat 27th may

And the male Bluethroat caught and ringed

Saturday 28th May comments: It’s never dull on the Isle of May and yesterday we continued our good run of rare birds on the island. The month of May has produced some noticeable highlights and after a few quiet days, that all change yesterday afternoon.

Up by the lighthouse a Subalpine Warbler was discovered in the bushes and showed well feeding on the ground. Once over, that would have been good enough but as modern day science is now playing a bigger role in modern day birding, things are now not that easy. The problem is that the Subalpine Warbler has been split into two species (and about to become three) and to discover the birds true identify, we needed to catch it.

Thankfully with bird ringers on the island, that soon happened and we’ve now got it down to either A Western Subalpine Warbler or Moltoni’s Subalpine Warbler. We will now wait for confirmation from a DNA test to see which it is (I told you things are not that easy anymore).

Overall it was a cracking bird and interestingly the Isle of May was actually the site of the UK’s first ever Western Subalpine Warbler back on 30 May 1924. Since then we’ve had a further ten but this is the first since 2007. On top of all this, we also caught the lingering male Bluethroat. So not a bad day really…

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