For birdwatchers new to the hobby, the warblers can sometimes be quite a daunting challenge. Small, wary, and often – but by no means always – muted and rather nondescript in colour, there’s no doubt that correctly identifying many species can be a frustrating excercise. The rich habitat of the marshlands at Padul are a perfect place to start however, so let’s take a closer look at one of the five species we recorded on our last visit…
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti typifies many of the problems that can be encountered with this family. This year-long resident never strays that far from water, and occurs in a variety of damp locations such as reedbeds, stands of papyrus and bamboo, and dense bushes and thickets along ditches, rivers and lakes. Views of this secretive bird are often limited to quick flashes, as it darts from one bush only to disappear again into thick cover…and it could easily be overlooked were it not for its unique and extraordinary song.
It sings loudly all year long, delivering an explosive, liquid series of notes – “”chwee! pity-chwee! pity-chwee-chwee-chwee-chwee!” – that once heard for the first time is unmistakable, and we heard them throughout the day on our recent visit to the reserve. With the leaves starting to fall from the trees they were a little easier to find than at other times of the year, and even allowed us a sporting chance with our cameras!
My apologies for the quality of the shots I have included here – in fact, the first of this species I’ve ever managed – but there are still some clues to assist with identification. Cetti’s Warbler does, I promise, have a distinctive, reddish-brown back and tail, and a thin, pale stripe over the eye. When seen well, its ID can in fact be fairly straightforward…and even in silhouette, its habit of cocking its tail over its back can be of considerable assistance.
Worth persisting with, without a doubt…and this surprisingly vocal species is a favourite “must-see” – or, at least, a “must-hear” – at this wonderful stretch of local wetland. The reserve at Padul is just one of many exciting birding locations we return to on a regular basis, and if you would like to see for yourself just how varied the birdwatching in southern Spain can be, our trips and holidays could be the perfect introduction. Click here for more details...and please, as always, keep checking our posts for all the latest news!