Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 10 April 2015

Thompson, Norfolk (Footpath from Church to Griston Road, Drove Lane, and Thompson Common)

1 Willow Warbler at Thompson common

I had only limited time this morning for a walk, therefore I chose a walk which took in a variety of exquisite habitats over a shortish route.  A friend of mine recently commented on the numbers of Chiffchaffs about, and indeed, I have had similar thoughts as site counts have been quite high.  This morning I counted 15+ Chiffchaffs in song, a good count over a small area, and since my last walk on the patch Blackcaps have clearly arrived, as has my first Willow Warbler of the year...a very late bird for me but undoubtedly seen by others elsewhere locally.

Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker (drumming)
Nuthatch 2 sites (low count)
Treecreeper singing
15+ Chiffchaffs
7+ Blackcaps
1 Willow Warbler
Reed Bunting 2 sites

Willow Warbler on Thompson Common: My intention this morning was to find my first, and somewhat later than usual, Willow Warbler of the year.  My walk was to take in habitat on Thompson Common where I thought I would locate the bird.  As was the case throughout the Brecks, Chiffchaffs dominated, however, approaching an area of scrub and a large patch of Hawthorn, I could hear what I thought was the sweet descending song of Willow Warbler....but something wasn't right.  As I positioned myself at the given locality, I could hear 2 'Chiffchaffs' singing in the same area, but, one of the songs initially confused me, then, after a while, the odd 'Chiffchaff song' ran into a not quite right, descending sweet song of Willow Warbler. I then located the bird visually and despite poorish early light a couple of factors sealed Willow Warbler for me, the tail never 'dipped' as with Chiffchaff, and the primary projection was clearly longer than on Chiffchaff.  After a short while, the Willow Warbler then entered into its full song.
The Chiffchaff often gave chase to the Willow Warbler around the Hawthorn.
Why did the Willow Warbler use Chiffchaff-like notes to start its song?  I have heard this before with a Willow Warbler almost perfectly replicating Chiffchaff song before entering into its own melody, this was again in the Thompson area a couple of years ago.  Perhaps the Willow Warbler was imitating the Chiffchaff.

Song Thrush (2) from garden:  Following my arrival back from Thompson I popped into the garden and heard a familiar "tick" call of Song Thrush, looking up I saw 2 Song Thrushes quite high in a north heading.  Late, outgoing migrants perhaps.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Paul...
    you got one then!
    We just don't seem to get them around here... but the Blackcaps have stripped the ivy....
    assisted, in no small way, by the Blackbirds and our pair of Song Thrushes.
    Pauline and I were sitting on a bench by the millstream a couple of nights ago...
    drinking a glass of beer...
    when one of the Blackbirds began to entertain us with its sub-song...
    wonderful to hear... and so much more complex than the territorial song.

    So, no WillowWobblas... but plenty of ChiffChaffs to brighten the mood...
    with their acrobatics and "off the double glazing" flycatching....
    but, you'll like this...
    many eons ago, Pauline was at a ringing station....
    A Willow Warbler was caught in the nets and measured up perfectly...
    all duly recorded, nice new bracelet fitted...
    and it was released....
    it flew about six feet and landed on a branch to recover from the ordeal and sang....
    "Chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff"....
    the records were altered to clarify the mistake...
    but, given what you have written today....
    were they mistaken....
    or did the WillowWobbla do it deliberately???
    Tim

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  2. Hi Tim
    I love your comments regarding your Blackbird sub-song whilst enjoying your drinks. Blackbirds are always thoroughly entertaining birds, and sadly overlooked by some birders due to their abundance. I love them and would consider them a worthy choice as our national bird.
    I am aware of aberrant songs with some species, and isn't it strange that the only two Willow Warblers which have replicated Chiffchaff notes have both been in Thompson.
    A friend of mine commented on what appears to be the higher than usual numbers of Chiffchaffs this Spring, I am in complete agreement with him as I have counted high numbers at various sites...perhaps there was a massive influx during a warm settled spell in March.
    Chat soon Tim and regards to Pauline.
    Paul

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