'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat photos – can you help?


A team of French ornithologists, researching the variation in Lesser Whitethroat taxa, is looking for help from birders across Britain and Europe for a forthcoming paper.

The team aims to demonstrate the variation in tail pattern of Lesser Whitethroats, and explore whether this really does help to separate eastern taxa from those in western Europe. Tail pattern is supposed to be a good feature to identify eastern taxa such as halimodendri and blythi, but we don't really know the true variation in curruca.

Tail pattern is currently considered a useful pointer for discerning Lesser Whitethroat taxa – but is that really the case? The new study aims to find out (Quentin Dupriez).

To help answer this question, Quentin Dupriez has collected about 100 photos showing the tail pattern of curruca in northern France, and classified them as showing four different patterns. Interestingly, some of them show a pattern that could match with eastern taxa.

To enhance the study, it is important now to explore the variation on blythi and halimodendri, and the team is looking for pictures of birds confirmed by DNA as belonging to these taxa, in the UK or anywhere else. The pictures must show at least the tail pattern, but the wing, as well as the complete bird, are also welcome.

If you can help, please contact Quentin Dupriez via email and include your photos, a location and date.