June 27th   Leave a comment

This year seems to have been a good one for common whitethroats. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere along the coast path that hasn’t got a pair of whitethroats. They are very territorial and come back to defend their same bush and patch of scrub every year, but each year there seem to be more bushes with a singing whitethroat. They have been on the up, more or less, since their monumental crash in the 1960’s when half the UK’s 5 million breeding pairs failed to come back one summer, probably after encountering the effects of a severe drought on their way to fuel up before crossing the Sahara. Things have improved a bit in West Africa rainfall wise since the 1990s and the whitethroats themselves have probably changed their migration areas and routes. Most have fledged chicks now and so they are even more abundant; although they skulk a bit, whitethroats do pop up to check you out if you are in their territory and make a grumpy rattle to let you know they have seen you. They are much more skulking on the wintering grounds. Where I often go in central Nigeria there is a whitethroat in every bush but you only know this if you play back their song so they come out to defend their territory. They are every bit as territorial on the wintering ground as they are in Crail. I think of whitethroats as very stay at home birds – they just have two homes, each a small bush, but separated by 6,000 km and on two different continents.

Common whitethroat

Posted June 27, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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