Song Thrush race?
QDuring the past week I have been looking at, and taking pictures of, what I call ‘Continental’ Song Thrushes, which I sometimes see during the winter months. These birds are very much paler than our resident, buff-breasted ones, being white, and I wonder if they are of the race philomelos. What do you think? David Richardson, Whitby, North Yorkshire
AIn most of the UK, Song Thrushes are of the clarkei subspecies, also found in Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands and even further east – on Skye and some of the Outer Hebrides, the subspecies hebridensis is found. Elsewhere in Europe, the nominate race philomelos is found, and these birds generally look much greyer above than our own. These look well within the range of clarkei birds to us – there’s not enough greyness, and the underparts are buffy enough. Given your location, though, it’s more than likely that you get Song Thrushes coming in from the continent in winter (especially this year, when they’ve had very cold weather). These could be of the same subspecies as our residents, but still look subtly different, and we think that’s what’s going on here.