Friday, 17 April 2009

Less is More

Lesser Whitethroat - Front profile showing buff flank feathers
& white lower half of eye ring profile
Preening - wing feathers showing well
Sub-song front view - appears to be a faint pinkish blush
Back view - showing tail feathers
At last I was able to spend quality time with our visitor which turned up on Boxing Day & has been with us ever since. Sounds like the relative from Hell, but not quite! Some people have got bored with Waxwings this winter, but how many have got fed up of Lesser Whitethroats? The arrival date of 26th of December led some to speculate that this individual belonged to an Eastern race, but the fact it is still present, may make this seem less likely. In the warm afternoon sunshine this bird started to sing, which continued on and off for several hours. Not once did it break into its usual British song of a loud tuneless rattle; instead it sang quietly to itself, a sort of tuneful sub-song, at times reminiscent of a Blackcap's sub-song with occasional phrases similar to Garden Warbler, and even a Dunnock. The Whitethroat was often the closest bird to the microphone but was drowned out by Sparrows and Robins which were further away. Hopefully, if we have a bright early morning over the weekend it may be possible to make some recordings without the ever present traffic noise. So, is this a genuine British-bred 1st summer male Lesser Whitethroat, or is it of an Eastern race? - the jury is still out.


Anonymous said...

The quiet warble is also typical of British birds' song. The typical song is a quiet warble followed by the loud rattle, but the rattle isn't always produced. So the song on its own isn't any indication that it's not British. It looks like a bog standard British bird too.

Michael Flowers said...

While the bird was singing I listened to the recordings on the 2 CD-set - "The Sound Approach to Birding". It was very difficult to determine if the Whitethroat sub-song was identical to an early plastic song, or the intermediate stage between subsong & plastic song featured on there. However, if I get an opportunity of listening to the song on a quieter day, I will try again. It is difficult when the bird is living by the side of one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city!