10 September 2006

Cetti's Warblers at Napton Reservoir

Along with most birders, I've heard many more Cetti's Warblers than I've seen.

This is a classic 'lurking' bird which loves to stay deep in cover - and yet draws attention to itself with the most extraordinary call, half bird-screech, half electronic voice box. It simply has to be heard to be believed.

It is also not very common in Britain, and has only really colonised here in recent years (nearby Brandon Marsh on the outskirts of Coventry happens to be a real stronghold for them).

So I was delighted to hear two at Napton Reservoir this morning, and even more delighted to see them both for perhaps a minute in all. That is a long Cetti's sighting, believe me. They are quite large warblers, a warm rufous-brown in colour, but generally unremarkable in looks. What really gives them away (apart from that call) is their large, rounded tails which they hold erect, giving them the appearance of a large Wren.

I got extremely excited at the prospect of photographing a Cetti's, but sadly, by the time the camera was out, a Sedge Warbler (I think a juvenile) had taken their place in the reedbed.

Other highlights of the morning were the Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins still gathering at the site ready for their forthcoming migration, the Reed Buntings around the whole site (perhaps a dozen in all), and a pair of Buzzards mewing loudly and low over Ufton Fields on my way home.

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