Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The sounds of Totteridge Valley

Bank Holiday Monday yesterday so I walked into the nearest piece of 'countryside' that north London has to offer; Totteridge Valley and Darlands Lake. Anywhere around London can just be too noisy for sound recording (planes overhead every minute) but this area is good for warblers and I was interested in getting some recordings of Lesser Whitethroat vocalisations. A couple of territories were visited where the males were busy singing but no calls were heard and no females detected. The first sonogram below shows the typical song with introductory fast twitter/warble followed by the longer, dry rattle. The second is from a bird which on most occasions dropped the twitter and uttered just a longer rattling phrase. The third sonogram shows a more unusual song, one that I've not heard before. This is an extended (11 seconds), ecstatic Whitethroat/Blackcap-like warble which I recorded from a bird at a range of two metres along a pathway between two dense 2.5 to 3.0m high blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) hedgerows. It was completely unaware of my presence.

A nearby singing Song Thrush was incorporating a lot of mimicry into its repertoire. Below are a couple of the more interesting species; the 'ke-wick' call of a female Tawny Owl and the 'laughing yaffle' of a Green Woodpecker.

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