Thursday, 7 June 2012

Marsh Warbler - Northumberland

This bird is definitely deserving of a whole post of its own, I am skipping ahead a bit here as I should really be posting about my dirty rotten twitching day yesterday. However I will post about this Marsh Warbler first, to cut a long story short I couldn’t resist a look for this bird. I knew roughly where it was at Hadston Carrs and so this morning headed up to Northumberland and arrived on site around 08.45. No birders were present; however it was ‘just’ a Marsh Warbler. A quick search of the area revealed an area that looked favourable, a text came through from Alan Tilmouth (who I found was still sunning it up in Spain) and it confirmed I was indeed in the right spot.

I heard a bird calling some 20meters to my left but it was clearly singing near the top of a sycamore. I lifted my bins to see an un-streaked ‘acro’ sitting on the top singing its heart out. I got my scope on it and I couldn’t quite believe it but it was indeed the Marsh Warbler. It continued to perform well for the hour or so I was there, it was a great chance to be able to study the species. Something I had not had the privilege of doing in the past, cranked my zoom to nearly full and enjoyed the bird singing its heart out.

Whilst studying the bird I noticed that they really are similar to Reed Warbler, if it hadn’t of been singing I would have definitely struggled. A couple of things did however stand out; the rump was a tawny buff colour, a shade brighter than the rest of the upperparts but in dull conditions this may not even be noticeable. Broad and obvious supercilium with the eye ring being indistinct, the head was very rounded and lacked the general shape I usually see on Reed Warbler, its crown looked peaked as the feathers were raised upwards and this no doubt contributed to this rather squashed oval shaped head appearance.

(Marsh Warbler - © Andrew Kinghorn)

It showed and sang like an absolute dream, I doubt I will be getting better views of the species in the UK (other than in a ringer’s hand). I heard it mimic at least 7 species of bird, these included:
  • Willow Warbler – contact call.
  • House Sparrow
  • Goldfinch
  • Oystercatcher
  • Common Tern
  • Blackbird
  • Swallow
Please view the video in HD:
(Marsh Warbler - © Andrew Kinghorn)

It was rather humorous to watch it sing House Sparrow, it was a rather good imitation. In fact I would not have known it was the Marsh Warbler unless I had seen it with my own eyes singing. Gem of a bird and enjoyed I went to go and have a look.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

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