Thursday, 7 June 2012

Mr Blyth

According to Wikipedia, Edward Blyth was an English biologist who lived in India and was known as the “father of Indian Ornithology”. He has (at least) two birds named after him: Blyth’s Reed Warbler (busksanger) and Blyth’s Pipit (mongolpiplerke) both of which are quite cryptic and difficult to identify birds so he must have been quite observant to pick out these as new species. Both are rarities in both Britain and Norway although the warbler is gradually becoming more common in south-east Norway with a few of singing birds every summer.
At breakfast this morning I checked last night’s sightings I saw that a Blyth's Reed had been heard at Snekkervika at Nordre Øyeren, only 20 minutes drive away. When I arrived shortly after 9am I heard the distinctive whistle in its song very distantly although the bird was a good 300m away. I was able to get close to the bird and see and hear it very well and also compare with two Marsh Warblers (myrsanger) which were singing about 400m away although these did not allow themselves to be photographed as nicely as the Blyth's.
I'm now getting a better feel for Blyth's and am starting to overcome my previous sceptism as to how safe it is to ID non singing birds. Compared to Marsh Warbler it is browner (Marsh is far more olivy), the supercilium is longer more obvious and the primary projection shorter. Things are of course made much easier when they sing but even then one needs to be careful as Marsh Warblers with a limited repertoire can invite confusion. Habitat is also an important difference with Blyth’s preferring bushes and trees whereas Marsh is in more scrubby, shorter vegetation.
Blyth's Reed Warbler
In this video you can hear both Blyth's Reed and Marsh Warbler singing.

Also 2 Marsh Warblers singing at Bygdøy in Oslo. Hopefully it is not too late for one to turn up in Maridalen or even better a Blyth's....

Amonsgt the nocturnal summer migrants I now just lack Nightjar (nattravn), Quail (vaktel) and Spotted Crake (myrrikse) this year. Hopefully a trip this weekend will give me these although the last two have so far been very scarce this year.
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Marsh Warbler

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