17 April 2011

More on the warbler

It can't be everyday that some poor Chiffchaff is misidentified as two different species between his breakfast and tea. The upshot of yesterday's shenanigans is that, should you feel the need, you can take a short stroll from the Newport Wetlands Reserve car park and take in a rather variation-laden Chiffchaff song; whether this is the result of the bird singing 'plastic'/'pre-crystallised' or just 'odd' [technical term] song, only time will tell. Today it was singing plenty of normal Chiffchaff, presumably much more so than yesterday, so my money is on the 'plastic'/'pre-crystallised' theory, and that the bird is currently going through the final stages of song development but, who knows, perhaps it was just being a shit yesterday and maliciously singing acoustic curve balls. Mind you, there is also the factoid that a little variation appears to have the ability to cause an awful lot of confusion, particularly when you chuck in the constructive/reconstructive nature of human memory, a lack of direct experience of a taxa and the apparently innate desire to pop things in a box marked "neat little box". Which reminds me,...

... the other odd phylloscopus inhabitants of the Wetlands Reserve, the mixed singing Willow Warblers (whose potential presence were definitely the source of yesterday afternoon's re-identification-misidentification). As far as I know, the bird which has spent the last few years near the bottom of Farmfield Lane hasn't been seen/heard yet this year (dead? late? gone elsewhere?) but the Goldcliff Pools car park individual is still on territory and in fine form. Joy.

Perry Lane Chiffchaff by darrylspittle

Two examples of the 'odd' phrase which, at times today, the bird performed repeatedly (although always moving on to more standard Chiffchaff song afterwards). Try and ignore the Whitethroat and the father talking to his nipper in the RaSPBerry playground in the background. The bird also performed a wide variation of 'tsilp'/'chiff' notes, at least four of which are disyllabic, a lot of Chiffchaffs have disyllabic 'tsilps' or 'tsalps' but maybe this one has more than most,... at the moment.

Goldcliff mixed singing Willow Warbler by darrylspittle

A few phrases from our mutual friend at the pools. Disregard the frankly dilatory delivery, it was almost lunchtime, the poor fella was probably as much in need of a coffee as I was by this stage; instead revel in his artful combination of his native sweet, scale-sliding cadence and the less mellifluous 'tsilps' and 'tsalps',... musical genius? Original composition? Or did he learn it off his dad down Farmfield Lane?

Oh no, I’ve died and gone to hell, and then I’ve fallen through a trapdoor and landed on a planet inhabited by either retarded or knowingly malicious phylloscopus warblers.

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