By Writing The Journal d’Abbeville
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At the end of March – beginning of April, the ambassadors of the African continent are back. Young or old, migratory holidaymakers return to their native land.
It’s the guarantee of a daily surprise, like a “friend” whom we hadn’t seen for 7 months and who hadn’t given any news or sent any postcards.
The white stilts began to meet us with a bird on the ornithological reserve of Grand Laviers on March 15 then 9 on March 17 at the Parc du Marquenterre.
These are the latest returns that Picardy is known of this superb wader with long pink “legs”.
Early dates worthy of the Mediterranean or the South Atlantic coasts. The French winter data remain few, the majority of these birds come to us fromWest Africa and Moroccan wadis.
At the beginning of April, the first powerful song of the Nightingale was sung on the coast, a date a little earlier than usual. This has nothing to do with our very mild winter since the Common Nightingale spends the winter in Central Africa in the intertropical zone in wooded land on the edge of humid forest and wooded savannah.
In search of sun
With us, it will also look for the driest and most sunny areas. The famous singer accepts oceanic influences but not too much is needed. In our region, its highest densities are on the limestone hillsides, the dunes with sea buckthorn, blackthorn and hawthorn trees which are very sunny as in Brighton or at Quend / Fort Mahon.
Controls of banded birds show that adult birds, after a migration carried out at night, return to the nearest bush, where the previous year they had nested. This reflects a remarkable visual memory. It will be at the end of April – beginning of May, under a dense thicket, that the female will lay 4 or 5 eggs in the nest built on the ground or near the ground. A second brood can be undertaken at the end of June beginning of July.
A hell of a night singer
It is not a legend that the nightingale sings day and night, its big black eye reflects its good adaptation to night vision. The English, German, and Flemish words which name the bird (nightingale, nachtigall and Nachtegaal) attest well to this particularity of nocturnal singer. In Greek mythology, the swallow (Procne) makes spring and the nightingale (Philomela, her sister, changed into a nightingale) makes the beauty of the night.
Fit fit fit tsi tsi tsi
In the clear willows, it is the limpid songs of the fitis warblers which resound from the end of March, they too are great trans-Saharan migrants returning from the mountain forests and gallery forests of equatorial Africa.
Its “featherweight” of less than 10 grams, its greenish yellow plumage, the color of the young emerging leaves, makes it go unnoticed in these light and humid woods. The song is easy to recognize as a pretty, gentle, fluty descending cascade “fit fit fit tsi tsi tsi”.
The term fitis is therefore an onomatopoeia of its song sung very often in evidence from the top of a thin branch.
We will also remember its concrete and charming Spanish name “le Mosquitero musical” the little musical mosquito hunter! It can also be seen hovering above the low canopy capturing mosquitoes and blackflies of first emergence.
Contrary to the last three beginnings of spring, this year for the moment he is back in our region finding very pleasant conditions without too much cold, wind and violent rains which prevent him from finding the small invertebrates in the tree tops.
In the reedbeds, as small as they are, resound the multiple notes of the Reed Warbler. A veritable “pot-pourri” of squeaks, trills, and including more or less partial and successful imitations of other songs.
It is reminiscent of the song of La Rousserolle effarvatte but with many breaks in rhythm and irregularities. So many notes in a single song make us admiring but also and above all attractive for potential Phragmites females.
Thanks to the ringing campaigns for the Museum of Paris (Bird Ringing Research Center), we know that many rush phragmites breeding in France winter in West Africa, particularly in the deltas of the Niger and the Senegal River.
Strange name of that of phragmites but which corresponds to the real name of the reed Phragmites australis.
This name comes from the Greek phragmites which means “used to make a palisade” recalling the use of the largest reeds as a fence. But it can also be found in lower density in brambles, and bushes near wetlands.
The migration will take place throughout the month and until mid-May with the arrival of the southernmost warblers in their wintering quarters such as the garden or babillarde warblers, the hypolais or the reed warblers, and closing the platoon of great travelers the Loriot or the Martinet noir.
In search of food
The concern of these great migratory insectivores is indeed to immediately find an abundance of food on their return.
A cold start to spring is a real handicap for these long-lived species accustomed to long days and high prey density in tropical or equatorial zones.
It is not uncommon to find weakened or dead birds, very emaciated upon their return to Europe because they have not found sufficient food on their arrival or during their vital migratory stopovers to regain their fat reserves.
In addition to the strong and more than real impact of human activities, the density of insects is also conditioned by the temperature of the water and the soil favoring the emergence of new generations or individuals having wintered in the adult state, larva or caterpillar. .
Now it’s up to you, take our quiz:
1- What color are the legs of the White Stilts?
2- What name is given to the nightingale in Flemish?
3- It is said that the swallow makes spring. But what does the nightingale do?
4- Warbler fitis is a featherweight. How much does he weigh ?
5- What does Warbler fitis mean in Spanish?
Answers to the quiz
1- They have a pretty pink color.
2- His name is Achtegaal.
3- It makes the beauty of the night.
4- On the scale, it weighs less than 10 grams.
5- In Spanish, his name is “Mosquitero musical”: the little musical mosquito hunter.
So how many points?
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