Wednesday 2 June 1915, New Romney


Soon after dawn, bird life seems to be at its zenith and all the feathered tribe lifts up its voice to welcome the day. A cuckoo is the most insistent and the note forms a continuous background to all the other sounds. The thrushes, starlings, greenfinches and all the rest seem to take breath, but this particular cuckoo harps on the old refrain with painful persistence, calling at regular second intervals for what seems to be minutes on end.

At high noon reed warblers are inclined to skulk in their retreats, but at break of day and eventide they will show themselves on the tips of reeds. This evening I watched a pair playing about the taller sprays and a very pretty sight it was too. The male was amorously inclined and twanged upon his vocal banjo for the delectation of his mate (whom he followed closely about) and not in defence from the intruder as is so often the case. He posed and postured, made himself agreeable by raising his crest and puffing the feathers on the lower back, and fluttering his wings in front of her or else by proffering little pieces of nesting material.

This was gathered from last year’s feathery reed heads, the bird sidling up the stem until the plant was bent double with its weight, when the bird’s wings would be resorted to to relieve the pressure. Both birds were constantly on the move, but never left their own particular strip of dyke, a beat perhaps 30 or 40 yards long. Should another reed warbler inadvertently settle within this area it was instantly chased away. I had no difficulty in finding their nest – just completed and ready to receive eggs. It was 10 inches above the surface of the water. A second, containing two fresh eggs, was 14 inches above the surface.



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