Where there’s a willow there’s a way (the willow warbler)

willow warbler 3.JPG

This blog features another summer visitor to our parts, and very similar to the chiffchaff from the week before last’s blog.

For the last few weeks these beautiful little birds have arrived in numbers.  Their song is an unmistakable little tune delivered from the branches of trees, hedgerows and bushes in several of our birding locations.

These pictures are all taken in one week around Idle Valley and Hallcroft lakes.

willow warbler 4.JPG

The willow warbler shows off grey-green to olive brown underparts, with a characteristic narrow pale stripe over the eye.  The most common of the warblers, it is widespread.

Its call is a “hoo-eet” and the song is a cascading warble, falling away with a slight flourish.  It will feed on insects, spiders from foliage, and can catch flies in the air.

willow warbler idle valley.JPG

Its nest is a small dome of grass, on or near the ground in thick cover.  They usually lay 6 to 7 eggs in April/May.

Each of these pictures have been taken while we were listening to the birds singing (and therefore easy to distinguish from the chiffchaff).  We first heard them, then located the bird and watched it climb higher and higher until it showed itself in full, as seen in the pictures.

The willow warbler’s beautiful fluid cadence is a sure sign of spring, and April has seen a rise in its arrival to our parts.  It breeds everywhere north from mid France and Central Europe, except Iceland.

It stays with us until October, and is a common migrant in South Europe.  It loves light woodland areas, scrub and bushes of all kinds.  Birch and willow trees are its favourites.

willow warbler2 idle valley

So that’s the willow warbler and chiffchaff.  Our mission over the next couple of weeks is the reed and sedge warbler, and we must at least get to hear the elusive cuckoo!  So stay tuned as we work hard to bring you our sightings around the area.

We’ve had our first swallow pictures this week too – and this little egret was captured yesterday at Eaton!

swallows eaton.JPG

Swallows, Eaton

little egret eaton.JPG

Little egret, Eaton

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