31.05.21 Marsh Warbler

Light easterly breeze, cloudless skies.

Very quiet as is to be expected this time of year but the promise of something special during this excellent spell of late spring weather is of course high. Unfortunately there was little to raise the pulse with 2 Red Kite the highlights.

Better fortunes on the 30th where under murky skies Kris Gillam discovered a brilliant Marsh Warbler in the hollow. The bird sang strongly at times but was difficult to see. Out of caution, we collectively felt it wasn’t appropriate to release the news, given this species sparse and sporadic breeding distribution in the UK. I have seen Marsh Warbler breeding in very similar habitat in Kent in the 1990’s. It constitutes only the 4th site record since 1960. 2 Bee-eater were also seen elsewhere on the headland by two fortunate observers.

A clip of the Marsh Warbler song. A fast rambling, agitated babble including much mimicry which involved Chiffchaff, Swallow, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, juv. Starling, Blackbird alarm call, Nightingale and Stonechat to name some of what we could identify. John Cooper kindly provided some historical context which is reproduced below.

1970: One singing and seen well was later trapped and ringed in Whitbred Hollow on the 7/6. In song it was imitating many species including Goldfinch, Nightingale, Thrushes & Linnet etc. (J.F.Cooper, B.E.Cooper, K. Verrall, R.H.Charlwood, K.D.Atkin, M.J.Rogers & P.J.Wilson et al). PerB.H.Bird Report.

1973: One was seen and heard on 28/5 in Whitbread Hollow. (P. Clements, A.R. Kitson, N.A.G. Lord). 

1990: One at Belle Tout on 28/5 (R.H. Charlwood, R.D.M. Edgar).

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