Sunday, 28 April 2013

Warblers, Painting and Tern

Suddenly the skies over my local gravel pits are full of Swifts, Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins. Setting out before 8am, for a circuit of five local pits brought an exciting haul of summer visitors and passage migrants and the best view of a Lesser Whitethroat I've had since I was a child.
A good morning for undergoing the annual process of re-tuning the ear to identify Warblers by song: Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff all heard (and mostly seen too) in one morning.
The crazed arcade-game song of a Nightingale pierced the hedgerow around the Main Pit.

Because I first learned to identify these songs in childhood several of them have children's TV mnemonics for me: the Blackcap song includes a distinctive phrase that reminds me of The Clangers' 'oh bugger, he's broken it off again". The Reed Warbler sounds like the mad inventor from 'Catch the Pigeon' reciting an incessant list of unintelligible syllables selected at random from a vast vocabulary of squeaks, whistles, churrs and rattles, pinging about its vocal register like an enraged bluebottle in a jam jar.
The wistfully downbeat, descending song of the Willow Warbler; the explosive exclamation of a Cetti's Warbler; the slap-dash, carefree chiff-chaffing of a Chiffchaff; the Garden Warbler's liquid song like a stream running through pebbles but with some nasal scratchy phrases thrown in... all go to make a pleasant morning's birding.
At Woolhampton I found a Yellow Wagtail, and  Common Sandpiper.

The tree where the Cormorants habitually perch was host to an Osprey for a few moments earlier in the month (I didn't see it). But seeing this scene reminds me of my painting of that tree from 2010, which is still in my studio and needs a home.
'One for Minnow, Two for Koi" oil on primed paper, 2010
A Common Tern, spotted at great distance, settled on a sign board in the water.

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