Sunday 31 May 2020

Blyth's Reed

Juvenile Dartford Warbler - East Devon Commons.
A trip over to the stunning Beer Head this afternoon - believe it or not my first ever trip there! Kevin Hale had made the superb discovery of a singing Blyth's Reed Warbler - a bird I still needed for Devon.
On arrival the bird was singing and it sounded spot on - like a slowed-down Reed Warbler with melodic, at times Nightingale-like fluty phrases between the 'chunters'. After about an hour however it speeded up considerably, and sounded much more Marsh Warbler-like with breathless, hurried phrases and spells of frenetic mimicry that included House Sparrow-like 'chirrups', Yellow Wag-like 'tsweeps', Whitethroat-like 'churrs', Chaffinch-like 'chinks' and even Green Sand-like 'kluweet-weets'. This floored me a little bit and I realised how untrained my ears are to the rare 'acros'. The doubts started to creep in and I was leaning much more towards Marsh, but it sounds like the consensus is now firmly back in the Blyth's camp which is great news. Habitat-wise it certainly felt better for Blyths but you can never me too sure with migrant birds.
Huge thanks to Kevin and great to see Ernie,  Clive, Ian and Gavin. A thoroughly educational afternoon and a sharp reminder of the pressing need to purchase some recording equipment!

July Belle


Juvenile Linnet.


  1. Good to see you yesterday Matt. 😊
    Like you I swayed toward Marsh, then back again when I compared my recordings to Marsh and Blyth's Reed on Xeno Canto. A second visit in the evening was mainly to try for clinching views and (if poss) photos. Mission accomplished! Glad you liked Beer Head. 😊 👍🏻

  2. Hi Gav - fascinating bird! If it hadn't done the hurried mimicry bit I don't think I'd have ever considered Marsh. I heard several Blyth's in India a couple years ago and without exception they were slow and methodical with nice fluty phrases (like this one was initially). A good learning experience for me. Was dead envious of that furry, creature-like microphone you were pointing at it. I'm realising more and more I need some good recording equipment! Great to see you and yes, thought Beer Head was stunning - would love to say it's not as nice as Orcombe but I'd be lying. Look forward to reading your blog. All the best. Matt