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 Whinchat  Saxicola rubetra


  

Mimicry in the Whinchat

In early June 2009 I made a sound recording of a Whinchat in Glen Brerachan in Perthshire, Scotland. It was early morning (0540h), misty and a light drizzle was threatening to become heavier. Within a ten minute period this male surprised me with its vocal mimicry as it sang from a silver birch slope overlooking a juncus rush marsh. I recognised at least 15 avian species plus the sound of a distant lamb (of which there were several grazing nearby) and quite probably a frog (also abundant in the area). Several other phrases may have been from unknown species picked up in the wintering quarters in Africa. The Corn Bunting/Corncrake combination suggests that this bird may have been reared, or spent a previous breeding season, in either the Inner Hebrides or even Eastern Europe (if Thrush Nightingale is indeed what is replicated below). However, Scottish-ringed birds have been recovered on migration in Morocco, Iberia and France (BTO/The Birds of Scotland, 2007) and first-year birds may learn from other species in these areas. The rain put paid to further recording and I did not manage to find time to revisit the area later in the week. Hopefully I will be able to relocate this male on territory in 2010 for further sound samples.

 

The following sonograms are from a single male Whinchat mimicking at least 15 avian species (plus lamb & frog!) in a 10 minute period.

 

 Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating thrush (Turdus viscivoros/T. merula) mimicry; single strophe consisting of Mistle Thrush alarm rattle followed by three phrases of Blackbird song.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc01]

    Whinchat_1

 

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating finch mimicry; a single strophe consisting of rearranged Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) song (trill-flourish-trill).

[File name: whinchat170609kfc02]

    Whinchat_2

 

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating bunting mimicry; a single strophe consisting of a very close representation of Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) song.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc03]

    Whinchat_3

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating multi-species mimicry in a single delivery; two rasps of Corncrake (Crex crex) advertising song followed by territorial vocalisation of a displaying Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), and almost certainly a frog vocal.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc04]

    Whinchat_4

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating wader mimicry; a single strophe consisting of two unrecogisable phrases and the start of Curlew (Numenius arquata) terriorial vocalisation.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc05]

    Whinchat_5

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating hirundine mimicry; a single strophe consisting of the dry chirps of a House Martin (Delichon urbicum) followed by possible Acrocephalus vocalisations.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc06]

    Whinchat_6

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating mammal mimicry; a single strophe consisting of a representation of a distant lamb, followed by an unknown phrase.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc07]

    Whinchat_7

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating thrush mimicry; a single strophe consisting of probable Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) (or Common Nightingale L. megarhynchos?) phrases.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc08]

    Whinchat_8

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating wader mimicry; a single strophe consisting of the piping flight call of Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus).

[File name: whinchat170609kfc09]

    Whinchat_9

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating bunting mimicry; a single strophe consisting of Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) song, followed by an unknown phrase.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc10]

    Whinchat_10

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating thrush mimicry of two vocalisation types from the same species; a single strophe consisting of Robin (Erithacus rubecula) call followed by song phrases.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc11]

    Whinchat_11

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating hirundine mimicry; a single strophe consisting of the fast, dry flight twitter of Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica).

[File name: whinchat170609kfc12]

    Whinchat_12

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating warbler mimicry; a single strophe consisting of the first few phrases of Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochulis) song.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc13]

    Whinchat_13

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) mimicry; a single strophe consisting of various phrases of Wren song.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc14]

    Whinchat_14

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat song

Glen Brerachan, Perthshire, Scotland  56 45' 18.9'' N  03 35' 20.9'' W  17 June 2009, 0540h

Singing male incorporating Wren (T. troglodytes) mimicry; a single strophe consisting of almost 3 seconds of various phrases of Wren song.

[File name: whinchat170609kfc15]

    Whinchat_15

 

 

 

Sonogram of Whinchat call

Pogorzelce, Bialowieza Forest, Poland  52 43' 25.0'' N  23 48' 38.0'' E   27 June 2009, 1848h

Repeated calls consisting of a 'huu' note between 2-3 kHz, often followed by a harder single or double 'chat' note.

 

 

 


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   Fraser Simpson    www.fssbirding.org.uk