Eye to Eye with Sylvia
Out Of Africa
No, I’m not in Africa, but this little whitethroat (Sylvia communis) was until just recently! They over-winter in sub-Saharan Africa before returning to breeding grounds, across Europe, in mid April. Whitethroats are warblers and have such a beautiful song. They’re similar in appearance to reed and garden warblers but have a longer tail and much more defined white throat. They are quite short-lived birds, usually about 2 years, so I suspect that the ones returning to this exact same nest-site, at Heather Farm wetlands centre, are the juveniles I saw fledging last summer.
I spotted the first male on Easter Sunday when out with my hubby. I wish he could feel as excited as me about such sightings, but he was very happy that it was sunny and warm, with a spot of grass to lay out on and the cafe for an ice-cream! Yesterday wasn’t quite so warm and bright but I am pretty certain that this whitethroat is a returning female. It’s slightly less defined in colour and markings and was busily collecting soft nesting material that it took back into the shrub that it’s perched on.
Perched in the birdhide, looking out through the way in, I can watch these wonderful little birds flitting in and out of their nest site, stopping to sing or feed, for hours. I’m certain they’re aware of me, in fact they often look me straight in the eye, with head cocked questioningly, but if I keep perfectly still they’ll just carry on about their business. I love these little moments of connection, it’s almost as if you’re having a silent conversation through mere eye contact! I can’t wait to see how this pair develop and really hope that I will get to see fledglings again later in the Summer.
If, like me, you love birdsong, why not head over to the RSPB website and buy or stream the single Let Nature Sing! You can help us get birdsong to the top of the charts by listening to something truly beautiful by May 2nd. I would encourage you all to visit their page on warblers and listen to the amazing songs of these natural-born singers!