Cetti’s Warbler

Snow gone, not raining and the sun is out. Stuff the housework, time to spend the weekend on the nature reserves!

Saturday morning, we were sitting in a hide at Westhay staring at nothing in particular when we noticed something moving in the reeds near the hide. It was too dark to get a clear identification other than to note that it was small, shy and was not coming out. So when in doubt, shoot first and examine later.

Cettia cetti
Cettia cetti

That evening we sat down to process the days shots and were amazed to discover that the little bird bouncing around in the reed bed was a Cetti’s Warbler. Now whilst this is not a rare bird, (The population in the UK, whilst limited to southern England, East Anglia and Wales, has been gradualy growing since its arrival in 1961 from mainland Europe, where it breeds extensively from northern France to North Africa and east into Southern Asia.) it is very rarely sighted. This is a bird that has perfected the art of invisiblity. The RSPB Handbook describes it as ” a secretive and skulking species that would be overlooked if it were not for the outbursts of its distinctive song.” I think that is a little harsh. Ours was bouncing around in the reeds picking up insects quite happily – hardly skulking.

Cettia cetti
Cettia cetti – slightly smaller than a House Sparrow

The Cetti’s (prounounced chetty) Warbler was named after the 18th century zoologist Francesco Cetti, an Italian Jesuit priest, zoologist and mathematician. Cetti took long excursions in the vicinity of Sassari in Sardinia, collating his discoveries in the Storia Naturale di Sardegna (Natural History of Sardinia) (1774–7). This has four volumes, covering quadrupeds, birds, fish, and insects and fossils respectively.

Oh yes, and whilst we were coming away from the hide, this busy little Blue Tit paused in its efforts to tear the reed stem apart to pose for my camera. There were bits of reed stem flying everywhere!

Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
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Author: Hares on the Hill

I am a designer and photographer. I live with my wife and our two dogs in the Welsh Marches, a land full of history, legends, mountains, rivers and dragon's breath; a place where animism thrives. To our north are the Cambrian Mountains, the Elenydd, a vast plateau so ancient that its mountains now have the appearance of steeply rounded moorland hills; to the east is England; to the south stand the Black Mountains and in the west the Brecon Beacons rise around the twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du, the highest mountain in West Wales.

2 thoughts on “Cetti’s Warbler”

  1. Wow, you actually saw a Cetti’s Warbler! Fab pictures, thanks. I’ve heard them in reedy Norfolk, they’re so loud and scolding but no matter how long I stood there, I never saw one. Lovely blog.
    Sarah (thesleepysparrow.blogspot.com)

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