Today’s songster has the reeds singing beside most lakes, quarries and wetland areas. The pictures this week are of the reed warbler. We love to hear their chatter, and sometimes manage to see them climbing up to the top of the reed stems.
The reed warbler may sometimes breed away from the reeds, in willows growing over shallow waters, and during migration periods can be found in unexpected places such as thickets and hedgerows. This can pose identification problems with other similar warblers.
Its repetitive song is very distinctive: a sort of “trik trik chrr chrr chew chew trrt trrt tiri tiri”. When they start, this call can go on and on for ages. It’s so beautiful to hear – and a bonus to see and get pictures.
The reed warbler carries a bright buff underside, a pale brown body with a long flat head, but will often raise the crown feathers when singing or excited. It has a thin pale eye ring and a slim long sharp bill.
As you can see from the pictures, the bird is very adept at grasping vertical stems and shuffling through the reed beds, peering through while balancing.
The reed warbler is widespread, and is one of the birds that often falls fowl of the cuckoo, which often chooses the reed warbler’s nest to lay its eggs in. The reed warbler will then look after the young cuckoo, after its own eggs have been removed. The nest is of moss, reedheads and grass, often woven around several upright stems in the reedbed. It usually lays 3 to 5 eggs in 2 broods from May to July.
It feeds on insects and spiders, and will also eat seeds. It is fantastic to listen to – listen out for their distinctive sound when you’re walking near the river or canal. Most of these we found around Idle Valley reserve, and also got a picture of the similar sedge warbler, with its unmistakable silvery white stripe over the eyes.
As a little extra, we’d like you to see the blue pheasant we spotted in a field at Creswell Craggs. We’d never seen one before and thought it was pretty!