War­bler’s a noisy neigh­bour

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

NA­TURE can be very noisy. A wren nearly shat­tered my eardrums last year and it is quite nerve-wrack­ing hear­ing a bit­tern boom­ing in the reed beds when you are out and about on your own.

But another noisy reed bed in­hab­i­tant is the won­der­ful reed war­bler, a bird that causes such a ruckus in the reeds that you of­ten won­der what the heck is hap­pen­ing.

At 5 o’clock on a sum­mer’s morn­ing as you wan­der along the canal bank, it might seem peace­ful un­til you get to the reed beds. It re­minds me of my late teens when we used to wan­der the streets of Manch­ester lis­ten­ing out for par­ties to at­tend – you just want to join in!

Reed war­blers chat­ter at an amaz­ing rate, fir­ing out sweet and rough notes and some­times mim­ick­ing other species. Males have two songs – long songs up to five sec­onds which are used to at­tract fe­males and shorter bursts to mark their ter­ri­to­ries.

I have been told about an in­ter­est­ing experiment where a rather cruel ecol­o­gist used record­ings of the long songs to draw reed war­blers in and then played the shorter ones to scare the lit­tle fel­lows away.

Hope­fully that ecol­o­gist suf­fered a sim­i­lar fate in a bar, hav­ing bought a very ex­pen­sive drink for a prospec­tive part­ner be­fore be­ing given the big heave-ho.

The reed war­bler is a medium-sized war­bler. A sum­mer visi­tor breed­ing in the UK, it weaves its nest as a sling be­tween two or three reed stems. These are fab­u­lous feats of en­gi­neer­ing al­low­ing fe­males to safely lay three to five eggs.

It also al­lows cheeky cuck­oos to de­posit their eggs, pro­duc­ing chicks which grow rather larger than the war­blers... and kick out the war­bler fledglings. Ob­vi­ously with chicks around, the noise lev­els rise even fur­ther as par­ents fly back and forth to feed the kids.

Reed war­blers are a plain, warm brown above and buff be­low, with a pale throat and a short, pale stripe in front of the eye. They are sum­mer visi­tors from Africa.

As new reed beds are planted on The Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust re­serves and other lakes, rivers and canals, reed war­blers have in­creased in num­ber.

This is in line with in­creases across the whole of the UK, so we are all ob­vi­ously do­ing some­thing right. And hav­ing a few more war­blers in our lives can’t be a bad thing.

Peo­ple used to catch them and put them in cages but that was just self­ish and lazy. How much ef­fort is get­ting up early once in a while to lis­ten to the glo­ri­ous sounds of na­ture?

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side, text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070. To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust. org.uk.

●● A reed war­bler

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