“Classic LBJ with little or no defining features” would be a typical reply from a twitcher if you were to ask about the Garden Warbler Sylvia borin. Yet when one considers the tremendous journey these birds undertake every year from Africa, alongside the rest of its warbler kin, hirundines, nightjars, hobbys & cuckoos just to name a few of what makes up pretty much half our total birds for part of the year – and all seemingly innately – what it lacks in what we decide to call ‘physical features’ is more than made up for by this incredible feat. And they don’t stay too long either, just two or three months after arrival in April or May before they decide to head back in mid-summer.
Seeing songbirds singing at the top of a bush through a pair of bins is one thing, but seeing them so close in the hand of the ringers puts a whole new dimension on your admiration for them, as detail to they’re beauty they would never normally allow you to see in their element become clear; far more delicate than you would’ve previously thought, and thus only increasing admiration for the journeys many undertake. This Garden Warbler was among a tally of 13 species caught in mist nets on a chilly May morning at a bird ringing demo I attended at Winnall Moors. An increasingly important technique, not merely for scientific curiosity anymore but serious conservation-based research as the number of migrants reaching our shores continues to fall.
So while they may not be our most ubiquitous birds, it may well be a case of you-don’t-know-what-you-had-till-its-gone for the Garden Warbler.