Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Wood Warbler.

Wood Warbler thanks to Mark Fellowes.

Summer visitors to our shores are slow to arrive this year but when they do I personally hope at least one of them is going to be a Wood Warbler which will oblige me sometime somewhere with its unmistakable song ending with an almost pulsating trill likened to a spinning coin on a marble slab.

My first ever Wood Warbler was 18 years ago at Ingleton on 13 May 1992, my best ever encounter was at Gibson Wood on the Littledale Road when a bird returned to the same wood in May for 5 consequtive years 1996-2000 of which in 1996 I found two birds in separate areas of the wood but never had any evidence of breeding, I also found Wood Warbler at Botton, on both occasions in May 1997/98. The best ever count I had of the species was on a walk I did one day in the surrounding area of Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire but unfortunately I have as yet to find the record in my books but do recall  multiple sightings of this enigmatic bird which I'll never have the good fortune to repeat and about which there is a lot to say most of which some other time perhaps.

The recovery rate of the relatively few Wood Warblers ringed is amongst the lowest for any British bird as ringers seldom encounter them and fewer than two per season are seen at most observatories. In autumn the birds are thought to probably embark on their migratory journey direct from their breeding grounds and relatively few are ever seen or caught at migration so called 'hot spots'. They are also thought to probably cross the Sahara directly from Europe, they are one of a very few small birds that generally flies over the central Sahara region rather than around the edges.

There are so many 'unknowns' about the Wood Warbler, it is the most common trans-Saharan migrant for which there are no recoveries of British-ringed birds in the winter quarters. It has never been established where this bird fattens up to prepare for migration, or how they manage to make much longer flights than any other Phylloscopus warbler. Other secrets this bird carries with it are its habitat requirements in winter and on passage, also their population dynamics and annual survival rates are unknown.

So lots of things still to be discovered about this truly beautiful and enigmatic warbler one of which I'd dearly love to find again this summer, and if you're in any beech or sessile oak woodlands then listen for the coin spinning on marble and you've found your Wood Warbler, and I'll let you in on something, all my Wood Warblers have been found on sloping ground....Thanks for the image Mark.

And finally.... excellent image showing the Kestrel, frozen in time but looks like that in real life with its mastery of the art of hovering. Thanks for this goes to Phil Slade....thanks Phil.



Tim said...

Hi Pete its Tim from Oldham.
Do you mean Sloping ground ?
And the lovely kestrel doesnt actually hover.....

Warren Baker said...

Hi Pete,
I had a wood warbler on my patch once, just passing through, it gave a few moments of song and was off. Probably the best bird I have had on my patch.

Pete Woodruff said...

Yes I did mean 'sloping' Tim and thanks for correcting my spelling....always prepared to be corrected! But you'll need to elaborate on your claim that the Kestrel doesn't hover....Mmmmm.

Good to see you're still looking in on Birds2blog and thanks for comments Tim.

Pete Woodruff said...

Sorry....missed you off the last comment Warren.

Yes the Wood Warbler is a great bird to find, but that should read a hard one to find.

Colin Bushell said...

Nice post that Pete. Wood Warbler is one of my favourite sounds of spring; just a shame I struggle to find one to listen to nowadays. Here's hoping for a good season for all our summer visitors.

Pete Woodruff said...

Good to see you back from Colombia and the most bird species on the planet some of which I look forward to seeing in tour photographs.

Thanks for looking in and comments Colin.

Mike Bainbridge said...

Hi Pete,I'm currently working on the Castoro Sei Laybarge and the ship is mobbed with wood warblers at the moment (dozens)
Perhaps I should mention we are building the Nord Stream pipelie from Russia to Germany across the Baltic sea...we get a lot of hitch hikers.
Mike Bainbridge