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Monday, 1 May 2017

Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Cetti's Warbler....it's all about the Warblers!

One of the best things about Spring is the arrival of the Warblers.
These little birds are usually uniformally green or brown, constantly on the move and very elusive!
As a result they are a real challenge for bird photographers!
   The UK have a few common Warblers, and also some much rarer visitors.
A familiar one to many people is the Blackcap. As the name suggests, the male has a distinctive 'black cap'. The female's cap is brown. They have started to overwinter in the UK in recent years and come into gardens to bird feeders. They're particularly fond of apples!
    Another Warbler that has started to stay for the Winter due to the warming climate is the Chiffchaff. Everyone will have heard their song, even if they don't realise which bird was making it... a continuous monotonous 'Chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff'. (Bird names are so literal aren't they!)
  They are regularly confused with the almost identical Willow Warbler if you don't hear their very different songs! Chiffchaffs legs are dark, Willow Warblers are light, but confusingly, at different times of year, Chiffchaffs legs can lighten and Willow Warblers can darken! Experienced birdwatchers tell the difference in the most diagnostic visual way, namely the length of their wing feathers! Willow Warblers have longer wings as they fly further south during migration than Chiffchaffs, who have shorter rounded wings. Alas, 'out in the field' this is extremely difficult to notice or judge!
    In reedbeds, 3 Warblers are more often heard than seen. Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warblers.
Sedge and Reeds are Summer visitors and often constantly singing and 'warbling' from deep inside the reeds, out of sight. Cetti's are resident, meaning they stay all year round. These birds were once rare, and as they stay all year round particularly vulnerable to freezing weather in Winter, when many individuals would die. Recent warmer Winters coupled with the development and management of many new wetland habitats has seen these elusive birds thrive on the Somerset Levels where I live.
    They are hugely frustrating birds to see though. They have a very loud explosive call, announcing their presence, but nearly always belted out from deep in cover! If seen, they resemble a large unstreaked Wren. Some say that they're drab birds, but I say they're beautiful!
  Other Summer visiting Warblers are Whitethroats, Garden Warblers, Wood Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats. These are seen in the wider countryside, with Whitethroats being the most common.

This last week I've managed to photograph 5 of the Warblers mentioned above;
Whitethroat, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap....and finally, this morning, a Willow Warbler.
  I managed the Willow Warbler from my kitchen. The first time I've seen this bird in my garden, and I was very lucky as I only glanced briefly out the window! I ran to grab my camera and luckily it was still there. Thrilled with the pictures considering they were taken through a window in poor light! :)

Below are the Warbler pics plus some others taken in the last week, including Grey Wagtail, Shelduck, Heron, Pheasant, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a bathing Blackbird;





^Above^ - Willow Warbler in my Somerset garden! Thrilled with these!





^Above^ - Whitethroats  at RSPB Ham Wall in Somerset.







^Above^ - Cetti's Warblers at RSPB Ham Wall.


^Above^ - Male Blackcap at RSPB Ham Wall.


^Above^ - Chiffchaff at RSPB Ham Wall.



^Above^ - Goldfinches at Ham Wall.


^Above^ - Cormorant at Ham Wall (Nesting Coot too!)





^Above^ - Song Thrush at Ham Wall.


^Above^ - Sand Martin at Ham Wall.







^Above^ - Grey Wagtail near Chelwood in North Somerset.




^Above^ - Canada Geese at Chew Valley Lake, North Somerset.



^Above^ - Great Crested Grebe at Chew Valley Lake.




^Above^ - Shelduck at Chew Valley Lake.


^Above^ - Mute Swan at Chew Valley Lake.




^Above^ - Tufted Ducks at Chew Valley Lake.



^Above^ - Swallows at Chew Valley lake.



^Above^ - House Martins at Chew Valley lake.



^Above^ - Mallards at Chew Valley Lake.


^Above^ - Lesser Black Back Gull at Chew Valley Lake.


^Above^ - Unusual duck at Chew Valley Lake! Looks part Mallard, part American Wigeon!



^Above^ - Pied Wagtail at Portishead lake, North Somerset.



^Above^ - Female House Sparrow at Portishead lake.


^Above^ - Mallard pair at Portishead lake.








^Above^ - Canada Geese at Portishead lake.


^Above^ -Shelduck on Portishead beach/mudflats.



^Above^ - Goldfinch at Apex Park, Burnham on Sea in Somerset.


^Above^ - Young Blackbird at Apex Park.


^Above^ - Grey Heron at Apex Park.





^Above^ - Lesser Black Back Gulls at Apex Park.


^Above^ - Pied Wagtail at Apex Park.




^Above^ - Male and female Pheasant on the Mendip Hills, Somerset.









^Above^ - Great Spotted Woodpecker enjoying the food laid on in my Somerset garden!

















^Above^ - Female Blackbird enjoying the bath in my garden!


^Above^ - Goldfinch in my garden.




^Above^ - Robin in my garden.



^Above^ - Greenfinches and Goldfinches on my garden feeder.



^Above^ - Female Chaffinch in my garden.



^Above^ - Woodpigeon in my garden.




^Above^ - More Blackbirds in my garden.


^Above^ - Bumble Bee on the Aquilegia in my garden.


^Above^ - Unidentified bird at Ham Wall..... but was quick!!!