Friday, 4 May 2012

Lesser Whitethroat

Crystal Palace Park, 4/5/12, 0630+, fair, light northerlies

Solomiggers have been putting in the hours this week that's for sure. Another stint on the ridge this morning, here's what was picked up. No sleep 'til Dulwich:

Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Song thrush, Dunnock, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jay, Starling, Chiffchaff (2 territories), Blackcap (8 – 10 territories), Whitethroat (2/3 territories), Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Kestrel, Ring necked Parakeet, Goldcrest.

The star turn on the ridge was the Lesser Whitethroat. I haven't seen many records for them in the area so that's an excellent result and a new one for the park list. It gave good views in the scrub, alongside it's close relative, Common Whitethroat. So which is which?:

Top: Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) somewhere that isn't SE26. Pic: Wiki
Below: Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) ditto^ Pic: mine.

There are a number of clear visual differences between the two species; the Lesser being slightly smaller, having  an earthy, brown upper side (as opposed to the warmer tones on the Common) and a darker, more defined, slate-grey head. Good views should show a further contrast with darker ear coverts evident. Both birds are spring migrants to Britain from sub-Saharan Africa. The songs are distinct rattle-y numbers with Common going for scratchy warbles, usually from a prominent perch, and Lesser chucking a spanner in the works by sounding like a Yellowhammer. Look it up.

Elsewhere in the park there were the usual gulls and woodies over, going their various ways. Hirundine passage has been a non-event this year so far, last week's swifts were bang on cue but nothing again today. On the rest of the patch there were a pair of Mistle Thrush and a Nuthatch singing down by the Capel bit, otherwise it's as you were. Cheers to Dave, Daniel, Martin and Gavin for all of the above.

More local sightings:

There was a Garden Warbler reported by Martin in the Dawson's Hill area (May 2nd) and a Hobby was over Forest Hill on the first (per London Birders). It'd be good to get some more sightings of the latter, especially after the late discovery of a juv in the area last summer. 

Sydenham Hill Wood today: Blue tit, Great tit, Goldcrest, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Wren, Robin,, Blackcap, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Treecreeper, Nuthatch
Green Woodpecker (at nest hole), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Magpie - Martin S. 

There's been a lot of activity in and around and Sydenham Hill Wood of late, with staff and volunteers from the London Wildlife Trust working hard on the restoration of the Ambrook stream and dewy pond. I dropped by last week and have to say it looks fantastic. Breaking news this afternoon is the sighting of a bonafide Sydenham Hill Wood MEGA in the vicinity...a pair of Mallard looking cosy on the pond (new patch tick!). Really great news, seriously. (Thanks to Ashley White for the update)

If you'd like to add anything on here feel free to email us at Check back soon, it's not over yet. Cheers - Pete.

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