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Reddish Vale Country Park

Length, 14cm,

Wingspan, 18-23cm,

Weight, 12-18g,

Lifespan, max recorded age,

7 years, typically 2 years,

Breeding, 64,000 territories in 2000,

Diet, Insects, and berries and fruit in autumn.

Whitethroat

The whitethroat was once the most common warbler in Britain.

 

Whitethroats occur throughout most of England and Wales, but are absent from the highest ground of the Pennines, Lake District, Welsh mountains and Dartmoor.

 

Whitethroats winter mainly from the southern edge of the Sahara and across northern tropical Africa. Northward migration usually starts in March. They are able to put on large amounts of body fat in a short time; many Whitethroats stop to fatten at Lake Chad where they put on as much as 30-40% of bodymass! By fattening up they are probably able to overfly the Sahara at its widest point. Many Whitethroats also stop in North Africa to refuel before crossing the Mediterranean and continuing north through eastern Spain and western France. Males tend to arrive about a week earlier than females, which gives them a chance to set up territories. The first Whitethroats of the year usually arrive in early April at south coast localities. By the middle of April Whitethroats have reached most parts.

 

In spring 1969, three-quarters of the Whitethroat population failed to return to Britain and Ireland due to the effect of the Sahelian drought. The Sand Martin was also badly affected. Whitethroat numbers reached a low point in 1974, following which they stabilised at a level between a third and a half of the pre-1968 norm. Numbers crashed again in the winter of 1983/84. Since then, Whitethroats have increased and stabilised.

 

Grass and roots are used by the male bird to build a deep cup-shaped nest. The female then chooses a nest and lines it with hair, down and wool. The nest is wedged in shrubs.The duties of incubating the eggs are performed by both parents. The eggs are about 18 mm by 14 mm, smooth and glossy, pale blue or green with olive-grey speckles. Both adults feed the young birds.

 

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Whitethroat