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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Warblers /Sylviidae

Marsh Warbler/Acrocephalus palustris - Adult

L 13-15 cm. Breeds in rank herbaceous vegetation, often in damp stands of meadowsweet, nettle, cow parsley etc., often beside damp ditches or soggy wasteland, sometimes on fringe of reedbed if growing on slightly drier ground and mixed with herbage. Summer visitor (in Britain rare and local, mid Apr-Sep), winters in tropical Africa. Unobtrusive habits.
IDENTIFICATION: Very like Reed Warbler. Told by: song; breeding habitat (few exceptions); slightly shorter bill and more rounded head shape, gives ‘kinder’ appearance; often even less distinct pale supercilium, but slightly more prominent pale eye-ring; in spring, crown and mantle rather light grey-brown with faint green cast; somewhat more yellowish below; on average somewhat longer primary projection and more distinct white tips to each primary (but quite a few Marsh and Reed Warblers similar in this respect). - Juvenile: Warmer brown above with rusty-yellow rump, thus extremely like Reed Warbler; legs light yellowish-pink (light brown-grey on juv. Reed).
VOICE: Calls similar to Reed Warbler’s. Song, heard most from nightfall to dawn, a stream, broken by only brief pauses, of whirring, excitable and whistling notes with for the most part high voice and furious tempo, which on closer study proves to consist almost exclusively of expert mimicry (often e.g. Blue Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Magpie, Barn Swallow, Linnet, Common Gull, Quail, Bee-eater, Jackdaw). Now and then longer passages of fast, dry trills occur, ‘prri-prri-prrü-prri-…’, and hoarse ‘ti-zaih, ti-zaih’. Tempo varies, slower passages of listless repetitions can at times recall Blyth’s Reed Warbler, but speed soon picks up again.

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