Saturday, 3 June 2017
last minute 'lustre
I first saw a Marsh Warbler on a pale evening in Finland. We stopped at a small nettle tangled copse along a gravelled track, and got glimpses of a bird that crept through the undergrowth, singing short bursts of song from near total concealment. My impression of it was of it's big mouth, both metaphorically and literally. It was always hard to see, popping up as it did most unpredictably, and never in the open.
When a bird turned up at Lakenheath, therefore, I was pleased to see a few photos posted on birdguides that implied the chance of better views.
On a still morning this week I finally decided to have a look, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the scarce warbler in almost constant voice, and continually returning to a favoured perch, not too far away.
When singing, it looked very big headed, with it's broad gape bright, and full throat white in constant tremulous motion. Longer winged and much more olive toned than the Reed Warbler, it's buffy eye-ring and lores were slightly more prominent, though the stand-out difference was it's varied song.
Nightingale, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Swallow, Grasshopper Warbler, House Sparrow and less familiar african species- a bulbul type in particular, were among the many different songs that this bird had borrowed and incorporated into it's songbook. Such a far cry from the more sedate monotonous rythmns of the Reed Warbler, and less frenetic and scratchy than the Sedge Warbler, both species that sang nearby.
Normally a trip to Lakenheath would centre on the Hobbys, Cuckoos and Bittern, but this morning, despite a Bittern flying past quite close, the highlight was a small, non-discript visitor with perhaps the best skill at mimicry in the country.
By ten o'clock the heat of the day was already too oppressive, so I made my way back, stopping briefly to look at the other warblers with the Marsh Warbler still fresh in the memory.
The next day, the Marsh Warbler was gone, it's beautiful song having failed to attract a mate in this foreign corner of the fens.