Monday, 28 September 2009

Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris) - RSPB Otmoor, Oxon. 25/06/09

News broke that a Marsh Warbler had been found at RSPB Otmoor and having never seen or heard this species I was soon heading off to Oxfordshire to hopefully catch up with it. Reading some of the posts & messages on the local Yahoo groups before I left it was clear to see that this particular bird was a master of mimicry imitating a number of species with it's song.

Arriving at the reserve I headed off along the path towards the second screen, after a 10 minute walk I met a couple of people heading the other way, they looked a bit dejected and I enquired if they had seen or heard the Marsh Warbler, "no" they replied "and we've been hear for sometime and not heard a thing". I was a bit confused as I'd recently read on one of the Yahoo groups that it was still present and singing well, I headed off along the path and after 5 minutes had arrived to find a single gentlemen standing quietly looking at the reeds, as I approached him a cacophony of furious rich song belted out from the reeds by my side and it was clear to hear that the Marsh Warbler was still present. I'm really not sure how the people I met on the pathway could have missed it, it out-sung everything in and around the reed bed and continued almost non-stop most of the afternoon. Although the weather was very warm a continued breeze blew across the reed beds parting them with a delicate swaying motion and often giving me the chance to look through them, a few Reed Warblers could be seen flitting about amongst the reeds but little else.

The Marsh Warbler continued singing non-stop for most of the afternoon but i still hadn't seen it, I can only put this down to the breeze blowing across Otmoor which kept the bird lower down in the reeds, eventually it did stop singing and appeared briefly next to me in the top of the reeds, with the reeds swaying and the weight of the bird at almost the top of the reed it started to bend which in turn sent the Marsh Warbler flying back in to the reed bed and out of sight.

It was getting late and I wanted to miss the Oxford traffic and was just packing my scope and camera up when a bird flew across the path and in to the hedgerow next to me, I knew it was the Marsh Warbler and started unpacking my video camera again. Sure enough the Warbler burst in to song again with me standing right beside it, I found a small bench near the hedgerow and sat down to listen, without the wind brushing the reeds it was so much clearer and I managed to get quite a good recording of it. When I finally did leave I met Adam Basset on his way along the footpath and had a quick chat, Adam had really good views of the Marsh Warbler later on as it perched in the reeds. I was disappointed not to get a chance to digiscope it but you can't have everything.

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