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Dutch Birding volume 25 (2003) no 4


Five Lanceolated Warblers in Belgium in 1988-2000 and occurrence in Europe

In 1988-2000, five Lanceolated Warblers Locustella lanceolata were recorded in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. The first concerned a bird trapped on 10 September 1988 at Esen, retrapped at the same site on 12 September. Hereafter, a remarkable series of three field records occurred at one and the same place, a plain near the Westdam in the outer harbour of Zeebrugge: on 5 October 1991, 10 October 1994 and 7 October 1996. The fifth record was on 1 October 2000 at Knokke-Heist. This paper documents all five records; details on the 2000 bird had not been published before. The high number of records at Zeebrugge may be explained by a high density of competent birders in autumn in combination with the abundant (night) lighting of the harbour area, attracting nocturnal migrants.

All five birds could be studied at very close range (either in the hand or in the field) and all were photographed (and the 2000 bird was videoed as well). Identification was based on a combination of characters for each bird. Most important were the measurements (in the trapped bird), small size, tertial pattern (with sharp pale edge), streaked breast and flank, undertail covert pattern and upperparts pattern.

An overview is given of all known records (184 individuals) in Europe outside the breeding areas of European Russia up to 2001. Most have been recorded in Britain and the North Sea (92, mostly in autumn, only one in spring; plus five reported in September-October 2002) and in Finland (63, mostly singing males in spring/summer, only three in September-October; plus three singing males in late June 2002). Others were in Belgium (5), Denmark (4, all found dead, October), France (3, August-October), Germany (4, September-October), the Netherlands (2, September and December, plus one trapped in September 2002), Norway and Svalbard (5, September-October, plus one trapped in September 2002), Sweden (5, one singing male in June-July and four in October; another singing male was reported in June-July 2002) and former Yugoslavia (1, November). Figure 2 and 3 show the number of records per 10-day period and the number of European records per year in 1907-2001.

Dominique Verbelen, Torrekensstraat 41, 9820 Munte, Belgiƫ
Gunter De Smet, Edmond Blockstraat 9, 9050 Gentbrugge, Belgiƫ