Monday, 9 June 2008

Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina) - Wilstone Reservoir, Herts. 08/06/2008.

Icterine Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Icterine Warbler

News broke mid-morning that a Melodious or Icterine Warbler had been heard singing in the cemetery corner of Wilstone reservoir in Hertfordshire by Roy Hargreaves, I waited to find out if the bird would remain and contacted birding pal Roy Rose to let him know the news. By 4pm we were on our way to Wilstone Reservoir to see the now confirmed Icterine Warbler, if seen this would be a first for both Roy and I. We arrived at Wilstone Reservoir car park and were soon redirected to the east side of the reservoir about 400yards past the garden centre/tea rooms where we managed to find a space to park and wandered back down the road to meet a gathering dozen or so birders eagerly looking for the Warbler. A familiar face in Berkbirds webmaster Marek Walford informed us that there had been no sight or sound during the 30 or so minutes of his wait and both Roy and I believed we might be out of luck, a scan over the hedgerows towards Wilstone reservoir gave brief views of a single Black Tern amongst Common Terns feeding on the reservoir, and at least 2 Common Whitethroat could be heard singing before one gave good views in a hedgerow in front of us. After a wait of 15/20 minutes somebody proposed playing a short Icterine call to see if the bird was still present and after asking everybody present if they had any objections the call was played, within a minute the Icterine Warbler was calling back at us from an Elder bush (SP909135) and everybody was either delighted to hear this almost beautiful song or relieved to know the bird was still present. Within minutes the bird flew over our heads and across the road to the large tree on the roadside, it remained singing from the tree but was elusive and didn't show until it dropped into the bushes below the tree. It was here we got our first sighting of this Hippolais Warbler as it sat in the top of the bushes singing before dropping down into the bushes and out of sight, again it showed in the bushes before flying back over the road and into the Elder on the reservoir side of the B489. It remained in the Elder and out of sight for sometime, continuing to sing with snatches of Blackbird, Song Thrush & Sparrow in it's repertoire of melodic Warbler song. Eventually it showed again in the Elder bushes on the Wilstone reservoir side giving good views and just enough time for me to get a few photos before it again disappeared in to the bushes and out of sight, this continued on and off until the bird showed incredibly well at the front of the bushes snapping up a few passing insects as it sang and then catching a large insect which it devoured in full view, brilliant views and certainly worth waiting for. It did another circuit of the trees and bushes singing from each perching point and finally ending back in the Elder bush on the Wilstone reservoir side.

Icterine Warbler is very similar to the closely related Melodious Warbler with the main difference being the Icterine has dark grey/blue legs, longer primary projection, a pale panel in the wings and a sloping forehead. The Icterine's loud song rolls quickly and continually with brief slow repeated notes much like the Song thrush, often melodic with the odd scratchy note thrown in. It feed's mainly on insects and breeds in dense scrub and bushes and around woodland edges, a scarce passage migrant to the UK but widespread through east and central Europe during breeding season before it returns to sub-equatorial Africa for winter
If you go to see this fantastic bird please VIEW ONLY FROM THE ROADSIDE & DO NOT ENTER THE FIELDS.

Added To My Year List.

181. Icterine Warbler

Added to My Life List.

300. Icterine Warbler

1 comment:

Eagleseagles said...

Lovely photo's of a really lovely bird!
I too saw this bird - a lifer- a little later in the day than you.
I wonder if I might post one or two of your photo's on my blog(duly acknowledged) to show what a brilliant little bird this was?