Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Photographed at the saltpans in Fuencaliente this morning, this juvenile Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) came as a surprise...these are just not the sort of surroundings you expect to find this species in. The bird was foraging for small flies and other insects along the walls separating the ponds, a technique often used by the resident Berthelot's Pipit (Anthus berthelotii).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) foraging along the walls at Las Salinas
The Willow Warbler is a passage migrant to the Canaries (all islands and islets), and I recorded one on La Palma in April 2015 (see corresponding blog entry). On that occasion, however, the bird was spotted in bushes at an irrigation pond in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane), in what was seemingly more appropriate habitat.
Few migrant passerines turn up at the saltpans: exceptions in recent years have been Citirine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola), and a nominate/Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita). But the location attracts waders, and the following common species have all been seen there in recent weeks: Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), Redshank (Tringa totanus), Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Sanderling (Calidris alba), Little Stint (Calidris minuta), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), and Turnstone (Arenaria interpres).
Separation of this bird from the Chiffchaff is based on the following field marks: pale as opposed to dark legs, conspicuous supercillium and dark eye stripe, and a relatively long primary projection in comparison with P. collybita.