Thursday, 8 April 2010

Mystery Warbler - Tower Bridge patch

If you don't want to read pointless ramblings and just want to help me identify a bird, please skip straight to the video at the bottom thank you so very much. Otherwise, read on.

I started my patch-watch round Tower Bridge today with 5 House Sparrows on the lawn next to the drawbridge. This delighted me, and would have kept me cheerful for the rest of the day.

However, better things were in store.

I was heading back to the office and about to pass under the subway that leads to Tower Hill tube station when I registered some birdsong from the big bush to the left that my conscious had been passing off as 'probably a Goldfinch or something'. It's an odd feeling that 'registering', I'm sure you've all had it - a bit like your hindbrain is prodding you in an irritating way and going 'no, listen, listen to me, you're not listening, listen...' It was quite right though, this was interesting song! Warbler song!

I've only done one spring as a birdwatcher so far. While my birdsong ID is generally moving forward, severe lack of exposure means I'm still poor at the various warblers. That's why I initially wondered if this was last year's Sedge come back. Then I actually listened to some Sedge song on my phone. No. Just No.

A bit of playing round with the warblers on my playlist and some guidance via text message from a more experienced birder narrowed it down to a possible 2 species for me. I was 75% Garden Warbler and 24% Whitethroat (the remaining 1% was taken up by self doubt insisting I'd just found a Goldfinch in an unusual place). The bird then proceeded to confuse the issue by making the briefest of brief darting flights from one bit of impenetrable bush to another and flying through shadows in such a way that it looked like it might be greyish with a black cap on its head, or might just have caught the light in a funny way. The little bastard was proving to be tricky. I'd ruled out Blackcap as the tone didn't seem right, not 'flutey' and Blackbirdy enough, but given my abject lack of experience, the song is similar enough that I was prepared to be wrong.

Fortunately I have a super whizzy touch screen phone (which, incidentally, is not made by a company with a stupid fruit-based name) and managed to get a half decent recording.

And so to the point. Opinions welcomed and encouraged. This is school time for Andrew.

Edit at 23:54: Having had 4 or 5 replies spread between londonbirders, twitter and youtube all agreeing 'Blackcap', it goes in the book as Blackcap. Excellent patch bird. Good stuff.

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