Thursday, 8 April 2010

Sylvia Singing.

I have been listening to the sounds of Chiffchaffs since mid March but in the past few days this has been surpassed by the newly arrived BLACKCAP (Sylvia atricapilla) and today was no exception when I paid a brief visit to Epsom Common. This songster usually delivers its warble from a dense and concealed perch anything from 4 to 13 metres above he ground. One of four males I saw and heard today was a little more conspicuous but I only had a few moments to capture a passable image before the presence of another walker prompted him to seek another more distant and hidden song post.
Probably the most easily identifiable of all the European warblers; dirty greyish-brown above with lighter olive-grey underparts plus the male has a very distinctive black scullcap (reddish-brown on the female). It is principally a species of open forest with a lush understory but also colonises riverside woodland, olive groves, parks, gardens and urban areas.
Full on vocals.

The song, often confused with the Garden Warbler, starts with a noticeably mumbling, uncertain beginning then switches to a rich fluty warble with a very strong whistling finish. Like other Sylvia warblers it also produces a variable sub-song of squeaky rasping sounds including immitations of it's cousins.
I have read that males with a high song rate; 160 to 180 phrases per hour, are those that posses the best territories, with a high density of suitable vegetation for nesting. Those with phrase rates of 80 to 100 per hour probably hail from territories with more open vegetation and therefore are more vunerable to predation. Females obviously chose the best mate based on the information honestly disclosed by these song phrase rates but that is not everything. Males that sing a lot apparently contribute less to feeding the young so a female choosing a lower quality territory may well gain more assistance from her partner in bringing up her chicks.
Now I wait for the others to arrive......Garden Warbler, Lesser and Common Whitethroats.  FAB


  1. The photographs are absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. I agree with Cheryl, beautiful photographs. This is a really lovely blog.

    I have only recently started to recognise the songs of different birds, and I still have a long way to go. I know there are some great singers out there, but the humble blue tit has one of my favorite songs. It always makes me smile or even laugh, maybe its wrong to laugh at birdsong (!) but it just makes me very happy.

  3. Hi Frank,
    Wow gorgeous mate, so beautiful with the sun!! Well captured singer ;-)

  4. I so love your posts about birds that are new to me! You were able to gather a nice array of photos! I esp. enjoyed the full vocal shot, followed by the link to listen for ourselves. Nice touch! The warblers haven't made their way up to me yet! Thanks for such a super post. And, for your encouraging comment on my blog today. ~karen

  5. Terrific photos. That last one is so nice.

  6. What a nice touch to add that link so we could listen to this charming bird! With this uncommon Spring weather we are having I wouldn't be surprised to see some early Warblers show up..I already have seen the palm warbler..such an exciting time, after than long snowy winter.
    Great captures of this little guy looking right at you!! Love it!

  7. I was just about to google the Blackcap's song and then I saw you had linked us to it--thank you! It really is a delightful song. I love reading your blog. I am either reminded of a bird I enjoyed so much on our one trip to the UK or I learn about one I have never seen.

  8. These are cracking Frank. Especially the full on song. Great capture.
    I love to hear these beautiful songsters.

  9. You have got some nice shots there Frank. I have seen two yesterday. Photographed the male high up in the tree and missed a sitter of a female because I had the long lens set on 6.5 metres to infinity instead of the the shorter 1.8, she was that close.{:(

  10. The song is lovely. And the shots are stunning too. Very good job:)

  11. Better photo's than my effort Farnk :-).

    The Balckcaps on my patch are birds that lost out on the best habitats, and have to settle for the secondry habitat on my patch, thats why I always get them arriving later.

  12. Wonderful, delightful images, so glad you captured it singing too...what fun. Have a great weekend~

  13. This is a fascinating little bird. Thanks for the wonderful write-up and photos.

  14. Cheryl. Thank you. Pleased to be able to get a shot or two of this songster at last.

    Angela. Listening to birdsong is always joyful and if you can ID the singer then that's a bonus too. Nothing humble about the Blue of my favorites.

    Chris. Thanks my friend.

    Karen. I have not seen many of your species so I also appreciate what you post as well. The 'full vocals' was sheer luck!

    Mona. Thanks as always.

    Tina. Now I remember seeing Palm Warbler but don't recall its song so perhaps you'll do a link sometime.

    Kay. As always, you are welcome and glad you enjoyed its warble.

    Keith. Me too, great time of year for testing out the ears & memory.

    Roy. Cheers. I don't usually have that problem with the 70-300 the main issue is the subject being too far away for the lens!

    Joanna. Yes, a charming songster.

    Warren. I'm sure you'll get plenty of opportunities soon.

    Mary HC. It was a nice moment to savour.

    Steve B. Glad you enjoyed this one.

  15. Kat & Steve. Thanks very much.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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