KING SINGER

Bird Watching (UK) - - Fieldcraft Night Birding -

It’s the Lo­custella war­blers, though, that are more typ­i­cally thought of as cre­pus­cu­lar singers. Bird­ers will of­ten lis­ten for Grasshop­per War­blers at dawn and dusk, but they’ll reg­u­larly sing at night. To have the best chance of find­ing a Savi’s War­bler, a night time trip to a reedbed would be a good tac­tic. The Savi’s dull buzz will be eas­ier to pick up at night when the Lo­custella war­blers are in good voice and other birds are qui­eter. Marsh War­blers will also sing at night but Blyth’s Reed War­bler would be the ul­ti­mate noc­tur­nal song­ster to find. On their breed­ing grounds they don’t tend to sing at all un­til dark­ness falls. This most tune­ful of war­bler has been spread­ing west­ward in Europe, re­cently. Last year there were at least 20 spring records scat­tered across Bri­tain, from Lon­don and Wales, to York­shire and Scot­land. I have heard one singing in Bri­tain in June, and it de­serves to be on the radar, but re­mains very rare. Bit­terns will go on boom­ing into the night, but there are other marsh­land spe­cial­ists to take on the night-shift: the crakes. Of­ten choos­ing to sing from slightly dif­fer­ent habi­tat to Bit­terns, they pre­fer shorter, shal­lowly-flooded, fen veg­e­ta­tion, be­fore the reeds have had a chance to close in. The Spot­ted Crake’s call has var­i­ously been The high-pitched reel­ing song of the Grasshop­per War­bler sounds more like an in­sect than a bird The Nightin­gale is the cham­pion night singer of all Bri­tish birds. Sadly, its song is heard less of­ten each year

de­scribed as sound­ing like a whiplash and a drip­ping tap (funny how a whiplash sounds noth­ing like a drip­ping tap). Ei­ther way, record­ings of the call can be eas­ily found on­line and it’s very dis­tinc­tive. As ap­pears the case with many of these noc­tur­nal singers, pre­sum­ably due to the lack of any visual dis­play, per­sis­tence of song and vol­ume are the or­der of the day – or in­deed night. The Spot­ted Crake is no ex­cep­tion with birds be­ing au­di­ble for up to two kilo­mte­tres away and pro­duc­ing up to 90 notes a minute. Al­though they have de­clined in re­cent years, birds are doubt­less still over­looked ow­ing to the time of day that they advertise their pres­ence. Scrub at the edge of a marsh in south­ern or eastern Eng­land might still have Nightin­gales. They don’t sing for much more than a month a year – blink and you miss it. Sadly, for most of us now, a spe­cial trip is re­quired to en­joy them;

GRASSHOP­PER WAR­BLER

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