Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Warbler Sound Quiz Part One - Acro's & Locustella's

Reeling Grasshopper Warbler by Paul Ash
There is no better time to listen and learn bird song than in spring and one particular family group are often easiest to find by using your ears rather than your eyes ; the Warblers. Acrocephalus Warblers or 'Acro's' as birders often refer to them  (such as Reed and Sedge Warbler) and Locustella Warbler's (such as Grasshopper Warbler) can be incredibly skulky on migration and their choice of habitat makes them difficult to see on breeding grounds too. The are however thankfully rather vocal, especially in Spring when males first arrive to establish a territory. Their rarer cousins can and do turn up as scarce migrants or vagrants around Britain during springtime migration and will often involve singing birds which find a similar niche of habitat to their breeding grounds such as a coastal reedbed, hedgerow or meadow. So learning the songs of the rarer species is a must for any keen birder during Springtime and being very familiar with our resident Warblers will hopefully mean that if you ever hear a rarity singing at this time of year it will 'stand out'.

Each species song can sound very similar to each other however they are all subtly distictive in their own right. These differences in pitch, volume, tempo and richness of voice build up in our minds over the years to create what I like yo think of as a 'sound jizz'. Just like when birders watch a bird and note it's own characteristic movements, shape or posture the same can be done with it's sound. Everybody will interpret these songs and sounds differently and describe them differently but with each species there is often a very characteristic part of the song that will identify it to a species. From these next few blog posts we hope to share our experiences of singing Warblers throughout Europe and hopefully learn some new things about their songs.

Singing Reed Warbler by Brian John Hill
So to begin with here's a quiz to have a go at! Plenty of people viewing this will know every song and others may not but it's all good practice. Look out for part two when I will post the answers and explain how I think each species song has it's own unique character, what pitfall species to watch out for (that sound similar) and where you might find one for yourself.

To listen to the songs just click on each question below and have a go!

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