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Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • Fan-tailed Warbler

    I know that I should be calling it the "Zitting Cisticola" after the relatively recent globalisation of bird names. And indeed it is a "Cisticola" (an African bird genus) and it does "Zit!" loudly from a branch or in a bouncy songflight. However I much prefer the prettier old name of Fan-tailed Warbler. It's a tiny little LBJ (little brown job) not much bigger than a Goldcrest but if viewed well it can be seen to be beautifully marked on the back and crown with dark brown and yellowish streaks with a white belly and yellowish throat and flanks. The wonderful tail is best seen in flight as they break to alight. It is like a minature Turtle Dove's with a rounded end, edged white and enhanced by black adjacent. The eye has a clear pale ring around it.

    It was not a bird we saw at Cabant, our former home and in fact in that area I only ever saw it once at Mauzac on the marsh below the dam. This autumn I was pleased to find three last week in our local valley (the Marmalet) in an overgrown marshy area recently cleared of (and subsequently re-planted with) poplar. So I returned and managed a few half-decent photos of these little jewels.

    Like Stonechat, Dartford Warbler and Cetti's Warbler, Fan-tailed Warblers are badly hit by severe winters and retreat south and westwards to milder climes. Around 10 years ago Fan-tailed Warblers were hit by two bad winters and subsequently were pretty much extinct as a nesting bird in Dordogne. Since then their range has gradually extended back eastwards up the valleys and for several years now they have been common again in their "traditional" haunts. Although they are often thought of as a wetland species, in Dordogne they are common in dry grassy fields and arable fields.


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Welcome to my Dordogne Wildlife Diary

In it you will find regular wildlife sightings in the d├ępartement of Dordogne, notably of birds and butterflies in southern Dordogne where I live. In adddition there will be occasional references to neighbouring d├ępartements such as Lot et Garonne, Gironde, the Lot and places further afield. Check out the Faune-Aquitaine website for the latest wildlife sightings in Dordogne and Aquitaine.

Where possible I will add photographs to illustrate the entry. Many thanks to Margaret Mills (family photo) and Denis Cauchoix (birdwatcher photo).

I hope that you enjoy my diary and look forward to your comments.

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