Warblers and other bird species at Cossington Meadows

Warblers and other bird species at Cossington Meadows


Conservation Officer Chris Hill looks back on the spring arrivals of warblers and other bird species at Cossington Nature Reserve.

Summer is definitely here, but the spring migration of warblers and other migrating bird species is one to remember! 
After our winter visitors: wigeon, teal and shoveler departed for their overseas breeding, our wetlands reserves were looking a little sorry for themselves as all of the wonderful calls and songs from the winter residents had disappeared.
Spring 2022 was much dryer than usual, and we saw long periods of warm weather with occasional blasts of colder air from the north.  This resulted in some bird species arriving later in the year. 

At Cossington Meadows we saw Chiffchaffs arriving in good numbers and of course, some of these birds are now resident. However, Wheatear, sand-martin's and swallow's are still to reach the heights of previous years. Could it be colder weather further south impeding their progress north?  A warmer period could see the arrival of those birds held back.

Looking back to early April when Cossington Meadows nature reserve welcomed two pairs of Garganey. These birds created quite a lot of interest with birdwatchers alike, as only approximately 105 pairs spend the summer in Britain to breed. Winter droughts and the resulting low water levels in areas of Spain such as the Donana could be responsible for higher than average numbers arriving in Britain.  


Garganey Anas querquedula drake calling Cley Norfolk - David Tipling/2020VISION

A whinchat was also spotted at Cossington in late April, likely on its way up north to breed. Whinchat numbers have halved between 1995 and 2008, and as yet the cause(s) is unknown. 


Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), male perched on moorland heather, Denbigshire, June 2011 - Richard Steel/2020VISION

at Cossington Meadows, a cuckoo has been calling since arriving from Africa. Signalling its presence, the male bird has been issuing its distinctive call, hoping to attract a mate. 

The female, if one is around, will mate and then start looking to find a suitable reed warbler nest to lay her egg. Cuckoos are famous for laying their eggs in other birds’ nests, fooling them into raising their young. Dunnocks, meadow pipits and reed warblers are common victims of this. 

Young cuckoo chicks grow much bigger than their unsuspecting foster parents and will often push any other eggs out of the nest.


Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

We also saw the arrival of sedge and reed warblers at Cossington Meadows. 

When visiting in the summer, you may be able to spot a sedge warbler singing from the perches of reeds and willow bushes. 

The sedge warbler has a unique call and is an excellent mimic, males never sing the same song twice, adding new phrases to impress the females.

Reed warblers, however, have a more 'churring' song, they can be hard to spot due to their size but if you listen carefully you may be able to spot them singing between reed stems. 

I have often heard whitethroats make their wonderful fluted call from the hedgerows, however, I am still yet to hear a grasshopper warbler, but I am confident that will soon happen.

In the meantime, I am grateful to hear the multitude of bird songs of many bird species across our nature reserves, it will definitely be an active summer!