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The Cetti's Warbler - Bird Watching on the River Stour
The River Stour running through Sandwich in Southeast Kent provides the perfect habitat for the cetti's warbler. With dense patches of scrub, brambles and reed-beds, this is the only species of warbler that is a year round resident to the region.
Spotting the cetti's warbler can be difficult until you become familiar with it's song and habits, but if you spend enough time in the right area, especially in the spring, you will be treated to a good view of the cetti's warbler singing loudly from the bushes on the riverbank or foraging for insects in the reeds.
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia Cetti
The cetti's warbler (pronounced chetty) colonized Britain in the latter half of the 20th century, and it is estimated that there are several hundred pairs in the region of the South and South West of England. It is more commonly found in Europe, North East Africa and South East Asia, and is the only bush warbler to occur outside Asia.
It is a relatively bulky wetland warbler that looks similar to an out-sized wren, often cocking it's tail up in a similar manner. The sexes are similar, with dark reddish brown upper parts and tail. The underparts are pale with a whitish throat, grey on the face and breast, and grey-buff on the belly. The legs are reddish and the bill is dark tipped, and it has a pale white stripe above the eye. This bird measures around 14cm in length.
Although it is quite unobtrusive in it's habits, once you recognise the explosive song of the cetti's warbler, it won't take you long to spot this bird in patches of brambles or scrub, and in the reed-beds. It is a common visitor to my riverside garden throughout the winter months, but seems to prefer the reeds and brambles in the spring and summer, as this is where it nests and finds most of it's food.
The cetti's warbler is unique amongst British birds for having 10 tail feathers and for laying bright red eggs. It usually lays between 3 and 6 eggs at a time and nests in the dense bushes near the reed-beds. It was first recorded to be breeding in Britain in 1973, and it's population has been steadily growing since then. It feeds on small insects which are abundant on the River Stour, so it also provides the useful service of helping to control the mosquito population!
You will mainly hear the incredibly loud song of the cetti's warbler in spring and throughout the summer, and it sounds like this.
Although you will hear the cetti's warbler more frequently than seeing it during the spring and summer months, if you can learn to identify it during this time, then you will see it much more frequently in the winter. This is probably because it is harder for the cetti's warbler to find food during the harsher weather so it is forced to come out into the open.
You can read about other birds found on the River Stour during the winter months here.
- Winter bird watching on the River Stour - Water Bird...
A description of various different water birds and waders found on the River Stour in the winter months, with pictures.