Thursday, 14 May 2009

An Anagram bird?

Walking along the side of the freedown at Bockhill, Jack and I came across these two Corn Buntings on the fence.

One of them was repeatedly calling a sharp zeet call and at first we thought it was an adult and a young bird. Although the back bird is not particularly sharp it looks like an adult to me. The two birds were in a state of some excitement and eventually flew to the middle of the wheat field where one sat up on a stray bit of rape and sang. I think that they may have been a pair in the act of courtship (ah!!).

In a thicket along the top of the cliffs a Whitethroat and a second warbler were singing, the Whitehroat in full voice and the other bird a somewhat subdued sub-song. We both thought it was a Garden Warbler and I got as close to the cliff edge as I could (not very close as I'm somewhat nervous of the 300 ft drop!) so I could look back into the bush. Eventually two birds appeared, one was a Reed Warbler, that was silent, and the other a quietly warbling Sylvia. As usual, for a while, all I got was glimpses between the branches of the tree.

Patience was rewarded when the Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) came in to view. I thought I'd look up the meaning of the scientific name. Sylvia, the genus, comes from the Latin for wood or forest and borin I though would have some significance, but all I have found is "derivation uncertain, anagram of robin". This seems a bit strange to me, did the original namers just make it up? Perhaps they thought that since it had no real distinguishing features it was boring and the "g" got left off!

When it came out in the open at first it faced away from me. From this angle the large eye and conspicuous white eye-ring show well.

Although they have not one easily defined character that you can describe they have a "jizz! all of their own. The big eye set in the plain face and the short stout bill, but most of all the rapid warbling song make them unique.

When seen in the open it is quite an attractive bird, and unlike the others of the genus the two sexes have identical plumages. After a lot of attempts this is the first time I've managed a few resonable pictures of a Garden Warbler, so

From this angle the broad bill is apparent and the rather stout and robust body makes it look somewhat clumpy and heavy when it is feeding. They winter throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of the extreme south and west and the eastern part of Kenya and Tanzania.

No comments: