Thursday, 4 July 2013

Red-spotted Bluethroat

Adult male Red-spotted Bluethroat
While in Norway studying the waders in the marshes, we were constantly surrounded by the songs of local passerines. The main species were Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus, Mealy Redpoll Carduelis flammea flammea and Red-spotted Bluethroat  Luscinia svecica svecica. As there are few ornithologists working in the field in northern Norway, to help discover the wintering ranges of these birds, we ringed any passerine chicks we came across and caught adults in mist nests. The warblers and redpolls do not vary much in plumage between breeding and wintering periods, but the Bluethroats were spectacular in full breeding plumage, especially the males.

The blue throat
The blue-throat of these birds is truly stunning, being of a metallic hue. It is so bright and obvious when seen in the filed, however, when in the hand and viewed face-on, these birds exhibit a clear and bright yellow gape. The yellow line complements the blue and red tones so well, it must have a purpose in the bird's display.

The abundance of waders and passerines in the Arctic is largely attributable to the supper-abundance of mosquitoes. They can be a pest for field-workers, with their incessant buzzing and biting, but without them the mires would not be such a tremendous breeding ground for birds - so many species are dependent on them for rearing their young.

Mosquitoes are ever-present in the Arctic scrub

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