Tag Archives: birds

Bird song: Willow Warbler

We are getting better at identifying birds, especially the small Sparrow-sized ones which are a thousand variations of brown. One of our latest identification triumphs is the Willow Warbler, a tiny – 11cm long – warbler which visits us here for the summer from sub-Saharan Africa.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

He sat on a shrub singing away, a beautiful fluid song, not frightened by our proximity and curiosity. Like a lot of small songbirds, his song is bigger and louder than he is. He is plain grey- brown all over except for a pale stripe above his eye, and a buff white chest and belly.

Listen to the Willow Warbler’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
último – latest
un triunfo – a triumph
una curruca – a warbler
nuestra proximidad – our proximity
nuestra curiosidad – our curiosity

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Cuckoo
Booted Eagle
Jay

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The fluid song of a summer visitor: the Willow Warbler #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KD

Bird song: Skylark

How do you spot a Skylark? Well, it’s a bit bigger than a Sparrow but not as big as a Starling. And it’s brown. The best bit… when it sings, or in alarm, it raises its small crest. Its song really is the sound of the countryside in spring, look for it in open farmland and heath. Exactly what we are surrounded by here. It is the song of the male that is most famous. Hovering at heights of 50-100m, seeming like a dot high above, he sings an unbroken melody while he rises, circles and hovers. Normally he warbles for two to three minutes, except in mating season when he may sing constantly for 20 minutes at a time.

Listen to the Skylark sing at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un poco más grande que – a bit bigger than
pero no como – but not as
el sonido de – the sound of
más famoso – most famous
una melodía ininterrumpida – an unbroken melody

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Goldfinch
Robin
Cuckoo

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How does the Skylark sing? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2hu via @Spanish_Valley

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Bird song: Nightingale

Everyone has heard of the Nightingale. There are constant references to it in literature, films, music and on television. Everyone knows the Nightingale sings at night. But can you identify its song?

First it is an ordinary brownish bird which looks nothing special and is only slightly bigger than a Robin. Because of its song, I was expecting something bigger. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen one. But I have lain in bed at night lulled into a pleasant doze by the singing of a nightingale in the woods behind the house. When you hear it, you know it can only be one bird. Incidentally, it sings at dusk and dawn and sometimes during the day.

Its song is unstructured and varied, some phrases are very fast with a sudden change from high to low pitch, some low notes are long and slow then build to a throaty trill. Difficult to describe, beautiful to hear. Worthy of all the poetry.

Listen to the Nightingale sing at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el ruiseñor – the nightingale
un agradable sueño – a pleasant doze
un tono bajo – a low pitch
digno – worthy
la poesía – the poetry

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Chaffinch
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Red-Legged Partridge

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How does the Nightingale sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29X

Bird song: Cetti’s Warbler

This non-descript bird is small and difficult to see, but its pretty name commemorates the Italian zoologist Francesco Cetti. Their song is used to signal their presence, a sort of bird ‘I’m here’, and plays an important role. The Cetti repeats the same basic phrase every few minutes so once we’ve identified it, we can track its progress across the valley. Their distinct songs have a structure unique to them and allow them to be sure they are not inadvertently mating with another type of warbler.

It is an explosive, metallic call of ‘chich’ or ‘plit’, and sometimes it seems to shout ‘chee’, ‘chewee’, ‘chewechewechewechewe’. Which, though totally irrelevant, reminds me of Chewbacca.

Listen to the song of the Cetti’s Warbler at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
la cetia curruca – the cetti’s warbler
indeterminado – non-descript
un zoólogo – a zoologist
por inadvertencia – inadvertently
aparearse – to mate

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Goldfinch
Griffon Vulture
Blue Tit

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Cetti’s Warbler? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29O

Bird song: Blue Tit

We all know the Blue Tit, or think we do. Blue cap. Yellow breast. White cheeks with a Zorro-like black mask around his face. But do you know what he sounds like? Notice some cheerful singing, close to the house? Quite likely it is a Blue Tit. Its quick ‘tsee-tsee-tsee’ gets a little harder when stressed, ‘tsee-see-sit’. They sing throughout the year, mostly to defend territory or attract a mate, and call to other Blue Tits. Their favourite food is caterpillars, and the yellowness of the male’s breast indicates how many yellow-green caterpillars he has eaten.

Resident here all year round, the Blue Tit’s main rival – for nests, and food – is the Great Tit: a much bigger bird. The Blue Tit is 11.5cm long and weighs 9-12g, compared with the Great Tit at 14cm long and 16-21g. So when you hear the Blue Tit’s scolding ‘churrrrr’ perhaps a Great Tit is near, or a Buzzard, or Sparrowhawk.

Listen to the Blue Tit’s song at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el herrerillo – the blue tit
la máscara negra – the black mask
alrededor de su cara – around his face
el amarillo – the yellowness
las orugas – the caterpillars

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Cuckoo
Greenfinch
Mistle Thrush

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
You see him every day but do you know the song of the Blue Tit? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29n

Bird song: Robin

The male and female European Robins, or Robin Redbreasts as they are known in England where they are a regular feature on Christmas cards, both feature a red breast. Or more specifically, an orange breast. It is resident here, but there are robins far across the globe; east to Siberia, south to Algeria and Madeira, and north to Scandinavia.

Whereas robins in England are seen as a gardener’s friend, drawn to digging of the soil, waiting for the appearance of an earthworm, they are said to be more timid on continental Europe where songbirds are hunted. This is not our experience, however. The robins here seem happy on the terrace and display the same territorial behaviour we are used to in the UK. Male robins defend their territory fiercely against other males and other small birds. Because of this their average life expectancy is only 1.1 years, although once that age is passed they can go onto live a long life. One robin has been recorded as reaching 19 years of age.

Apart from the chattering threatening behaviour, a short sharp tik and tik-ik-ik-ik-ik, the robin sings a cheerful fluting song in breeding season. Some of its song resembles a warbler’s, with a long series of musical notes. Listen to the Robin’s song at the RSPB website.

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

5 to remember
el petirrojo – the robin
o más específicamente – or more specifically
amenazante – threatening
mientras – whereas
una larga vida – a long life

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Wren
Griffon Vulture
Mistle Thrush

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
He’s a familiar, daily sight, but do you know the song of the Robin? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2fr via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Grey Wagtail

This is a misleading name for a pretty bird which flies past with a flash of yellow. The Grey Wagtail is the slimmest of the wagtail family and is resident here all year round. The male is generally more yellow than the female, though is less obviously yellow throughout the winter months. I wonder if that is partly a natural reaction to camouflage: in the summer, yellow is an effective disguise amongst the bright green leaves but in winter a yellow bird would be easy to spot amongst the bare branches. It is a shy bird with a large voice: its call is a sharp and explosive ‘tchik’, ‘zi’ or ‘zi zi’. Its breeding season is April to July and it nests alongside fast-running streams or rivers, or on an embankment between stones and roots.

Listen to the call of the Grey Wagtail at the RSPB website.

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

5 to remember
una cigüeña gris – a grey wagtail
engañoso – misleading
el más delgado  – the slimmest
explosivo – explosive
el camuflaje – the camouflage

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Roller
Blackcap
Booted Eagle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Grey Wagtail? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29a