After seeing my first Eastern Crowned Warbler as a first for Britain back in a small South Shields quarry on 23rd October, 2010, I didn't think there would be another record for many years to come. Then, we were all surprised when another was trapped and ringed 2 years later in Hertfordshire. This was later followed by this years' record when a bird was found in a small plantation in Brotton, Cleveland. The bird stayed 3 days in total and wowed all that went to view it favouring a sycamore tree.
I was keen to see the bird again, as the first bird I went to see was distant and the best views to be acquired was through a scope. This was not the case, this time although we did spend the majority of our time with our necks put to the test as the bird remained at the top of the canopy.
The Eastern Crowned Warbler has a more contrasting head pattern over the much more frequent and familiar Yellow-Browed Warbler and also has an additional faint crown stripe over the top of it's head. The bird also had a slightly longer and thicker bill over the Yellow-Browed and this is quite easily apparent in the field. The Eastern Crowned is also a larger bird than both Yellow-Browed and Pallas's Warbler.
With 3 records in the last 6 years, some might ask why? 'Sibes' seem to be getting commoner in Europe with more records occurring year by year. Red-Flanked Bluetail and Pallas's Warblers are a good example; at one time, neither were heard of in Britain, but now both are an annual expectancy to our coasts. Siberian Rubythroat in the last few years have reached Shetland and it is only a matter of time before a twitchable bird hits the mainland.
It appears that some 'sibes' are taking a different migration route to how they used to which is why Britain and Europe are having increased records now. The furthest Yellow-Browed and Pallas's Warblers breed in the same region as Eastern Crowned so it is possible that this bird has migrated along with our more familiar migrants to reach Britain.
An incredible record nevertheless and one that will probably be expected again in Britain in the coming decades. With more people aware of it's identity, it is a real possibility and an ID that should be considered every time you see a 'sibe' warbler like Yellow-Browed Pallas's or Arctic Warbler!