Saturday, August 01, 2009

The whitethroat isn't there

As I stood in the 9am sunshine yesterday, having just given the tortoise his lettuce, a small  bird flew into the tall Thistle Heath birch.  It was a whitethroat (Sylvia communis), of the most delicate mouse-beige with a paler puffed out throat and breast where it kept all its songs.

It had something white in its beak - a moth maybe - and was trying to dash its brains out on a slender branch while keeping a wary eye on me.  After a few seconds, satisfied with its impending breakfast, it retired to the thicks of the medlar tree.

Sylvia communis can be roughly translated as 'the common woodlander' and, though common enough, it was bird I had not seen in Emthree before.  Though not currently threatened, according to the British Trust for Ornithology "a drought in the western Sahel region of Africa in 1968 caused a 90% drop in the number of whitethroats breeding in Britain; a crash from which numbers have still not fully recovered."

This bird inspired me to take the picture below of the Thistle Heath birch (not including whitethroat), a plant that appeared in the Square Metre in the summer of 2003 

20090801 Metre Thistle Moor birch 018