Heads we win

Blackcap male

Male blackcap

Everywhere we’ve been this year Alison and I have seen and heard blackcaps.  For me it’s the most fantastic of bird songs, and it carries for such a long way.

A simple bird to identify, with a greyish body and the male a distinguished tufty black cap – hence the name!  The female differs, as she sports a light brown cap.  The call is a sharp “tak” and the song a melodious warble, ending in rising notes.

They can be seen almost everywhere, and we’ve seen them by the River Idle, around Kings Park, local nature reserves, and Alison had one in her garden this year.  They are usually here from May to August, but increasing numbers spend the winter here; in fact, we saw a female near the river in January this year.  Their nest is a neat grass cup, concealed low in a bush.

I’ve really fallen for this bird: look at the pictures, it looks as if we’ve painted the heads on!  To hear and see them is an amazing experience, and we’ve never seen so many as we have this spring and summer.  One reserve we visited near Lincoln said they had counted at least 75 singing males in one area.

Now whenever we go birding, we often turn to each other and say, “it’s just the song of a blackcap”, when years ago we wouldn’t have noticed…pity.

Blackcap female

Female blackcap


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