Alyth Bird Blog #3
Birds you can spot in Alyth during lockdown – third in a regular series
This time we are looking at (and hearing from) three summer songsters, but you may need to use your ears rather than your eyes. They are all members of types of bird known as ‘warblers’. All three could be found in a garden, but are more likely to be heard on the outskirts of town during our permitted exercise walks (places such as Trodlem to Whiteside, the track from Losset Road to the old Glenisla golf course, near the Lands of Loyal, or around the wooded areas of the burn). As with all birdsong, early morning is best.
The blackcap is a distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female a chestnut one. However, the main attraction of the blackcap is its delightful fluting song – myself and many others actually prefer it to the nightingale. Although primarily a summer visitor from Africa (this year I heard my first local one 11th April), birds from the Continent are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.
FACTOID: A folk name for the blackcap is, in fact, ‘mock nightingale’.
Listen to the blackcap by clicking the photo above
Willow warblers are small summer visitors with grey-green backs, pale under parts, a yellow-tinged chest and throat, and a pale stripe above the eye. They are separated from the very similar chiffchaff (below) by their song, which is a lovely fluid descending scale of notes. I know that spring has arrived when I hear my first willow warbler (this year 11th April at the old Glenisla golf course).
FACTOID: In Scotland it used to be known as the ‘white wren’.
Listen to the willow warbler by clicking the photo above
The chiffchaff is a small olive-brown warbler which actively flits through trees and shrubs.
Although not always the case, chiffchaffs often have dark legs and a short pale eye stripe, whereas the willow warbler - a very similar looking species - has pale legs and a long yellow eye stripe. However, it is readily distinguished by its song, from where it gets its name.
FACTOID: Increasing numbers stay to over-winter in the UK, rather than migrating south.
Listen to the chiffchaff (and compare it to the willow warbler) by clicking the photo above
We hope that you have enjoyed our third Alyth Bird Blog – please feel free to comment or ask any questions. Next time we will look at three members of the finch family.