Pallas’s Warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus)

This was a most unexpected species to find in the winter Atlas. The bird, which should have been in China, was discovered by Richard Blindell on 29 January 2005 alongside the Macclesfield Canal near Crossley (SJ86X). It had presumably been somewhere in Britain since arriving in October or November 2004 and stayed at Crossley for almost a month, being heard singing on several dates when the sun shone. The weather was mild during much of its stay but there were three nights of frost, with cold days, in mid-February and then on 20 February there was a biting northerly wind. The Pallas’s Warbler was seen on 22 February whilst there was snow on the ground, but not after that date.

Pallas’s Warbler is normally insectivorous all year round, like Goldcrests and Wrens, and obviously was able to find enough food in the hedgerows. A good idea of the habitat in the area covered by this bird is given by the different assessments of the four observers who submitted details of this bird as a supplementary Atlas record: two used B1 (scrub –regenerating natural or semi-natural woodland), one used B7 (scrub – other); and the fourth chose E9 (farmland with hedge – shorter than about 2m).

According to the note in the annual bird report (Blindell, Conlin & Williams 2005) this was only the third winter record in the UK, following ones in Kent (28 January to 24 March 2004) and Cornwall (31 December 2004 to 2 January 2005). Brown & Grice (2005) mention another, on 31 December 1999 in Cornwall. Cheshire and Wirral’s first Pallas’s Warbler, at Bidston (SJ29V) on 25 November 1980, was also in the period that we have defined as ‘winter’.