After one of my Taiwan trips, I was keen to have a re-look at our local Prinias – Yellow-bellied Prinia (Prinia flaviventris rafflesi) . I met 4 pairs today at close quarters, all appeared to be breeding, and I was able to image/watch 3 well.
Post 1 & 2 are close-up images of an adult male and female. One feature I had not appreciated is the feathers around the eyelid margins; Wells 2007 says “eyelids margined by a single row of white feathers”. I would submit that there are not always white but can be buff; whether this is a breeding change, I am not able to say. Note also that the female (Post 2) has a well-defined “white supra-loral strip … confluent with the white eye-ring” (Wells 2007). This is the best feature in the field to distinguish from the male. Although Wells suggest that in males it is only a hint or absent, my experience is that many males a small white supra-loral strip is present.
Post 3 and 4 (composite) show a feature I had not read about in the guides/books. I noticed it today because birds were seen at very close range. All the males I saw had an indistinct, brownish upper breast or lower neck band. It was not very obvious but present, an dhad to be seen in the right posture and lighting. I have intentionally limited processing of the images so as not to accentuate it in anyway. In one bird (middle bird in Post 4 composite) it was lower down and almost confluent with the yellow belly (but most birds had it higher up). None of the females had this feature.
I looked at older images in my database and could spot it in some males. Looking at images online, there are hints of it in some birds. I wonder if I am imagining this and appreciate comments from others who have observed this bird well/closely. I wonder if it a breeding change, hence not always seen? I also considered a stain on the feathers but it is occurring in all males – unless it is from feeding juveniles in the nest and this part of the body is stained by the nest rim/margin?
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth at fringe of city
Date: 1st February 2019
Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld