As previously posted, on the 19th October 2019 Dr Ian Grier and Andy Palmer caught an unusual warbler on the Salisbury Plain Training Area. They couldn’t immediately identify it, so they took photographs and extended measurements of the bird before releasing it.
I posted photographs of the bird, which sparked a lot of conversation with the consensus that it was “probably Booted”. Unfortunately, due to a complaint to the BTO that the bird was “fluffed up and looked unwell” I had to remove the key photograph, leaving just the photo of the wing. (The BTO are extremely sensitive to the potential for harm from misused and misrepresented photographs on social media. I fully understand why, and support them in their stance, but boy is it frustrating that a few malcontents can spoil things for the majority!)
The record was circulated around the acknowledged experts on the species and a submission made to the BBRC (several of whom were amongst the experts consulted prior to submission) based on the following table and all of the available photographs:
The details were circulated and a decision made and notified on Twitter on the 30th April 2020:
Essentially, the experts are unable to agree with absolute clarity and unanimity on the species involved and have accepted the bird as Booted / Sykes’s Warbler. It just goes to show that, even with a bird in the hand, with plenty of photographs and a wide range of measurements, it is not a given that an absolute identification can be made. Goodness knows how you identify with certainty either species through a pair of binoculars or a telescope.