On the trail of warblers

The first time I came upon a warbler was when I was trying to round up all the birds around my house during spring-time, February. There were the tailorbirds, sunbirds, tits, flowerpeckers and then one solitary warbler. I could never identify exactly which warbler but I held on to it being a Blythe’s Reed Warbler.

As I dug more I got more about warblers. That they are winter visitors, visiting from the foothills of the Himalayas. And that they have specific territories marked out to visit each year. Means that if you observe one spot across winters, it would be the same warbler individual visiting it each winter!

This year, we did not have the thota outside which used to be visited by a warbler. If it flew in from the Himalayas it would have seen just a black road where its old haunts stood. And not too surprisingly I did not hear any of the familiar “check… check… check” calls. The calls of the pale-billed flowerpecker are oddly familiar, just that the tempo of the check-check is a lot more hurried, the sound is a bit shriller, and they are a lot more common. What you need to watch out for is the measured pacing between the “checks”.

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Spring – residents and visitors

It’s already Spring in Bangalore. The tabebuias are out and the Pongaemias have shed all their leaves. For the latter, not all trees maintain the same rhythm and some are blooming light green leaves while others are bare. There are two in front of the house, the closest one is bare while the farther one is blooming. It’ll be a few weeks before the fresh canopy is back and the flowers are out bringing with them the bees.

For now, it has been a lot of visiting from birds. Sunbirds and Tailorbirds drop by singing, feed on leaves or on insects that are attracted by the flowers from the farther tree. These are common birds that are seen wherever there are trees in Bangalore, which aren’t that common. You can hear them singing, be it the stronger singing of the red-whiskered bulbuls, the eeee-oo eeee-oo of the tailorbirds, the shrill cheep-cheep of the sunbirds or the clicking of the warblers.

This is a purple-rumped sunbird, female, feeding on Pongaemia flowers. The male has a darker head. There are two species of sunbirds that are common – the purple-rumped and the purple. The purple one is darker for the male and is somewhat similar for the female.

Purple rumped sunbird, female
Purple Rumped Sunbird

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