Warbler’s a noisy neighbour
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