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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Warblers /Sylviidae

Rueppell's Warbler/Sylvia rueppelli - Adult

L 12½-13½ cm. Breeds in dense, often thorny or prickly shrubbery with some low trees on arid, rocky mountain slopes, sometimes in open oak forest with shrub layer (tall maquis). Summer visitor, winters S of Sahara. Rather shy at breeding site, but male often seen in song-flight in spring (at times ‘butterfly-flight’). Nests low down in dense bush.
IDENTIFICATION: Size of Sardinian Warbler, but slimmer and with slightly smaller head and more obvious neck. Characteristic of all plumages is grey upperparts with contrasting pale edges to dark tertials, secondaries and often greater coverts; alula often strikingly black. Bill narrow and longish, on some (not all) with clearly decurved tip. - male (from Jan): Black crown, head-sides and throat (unique), distinct white moustachial stripe. Orbital ring and legs dull brick-brown. - o/juvenile male: Crown and mantle greyfish (faintly tinged brown). Orbital ring rather weak, brownish-white. Some spring females have dark grey on throat. Told from immature female Cyprus Warbler by unmarked greyish-white undertail-coverts, light greyishwhite flanks and pale blue-grey bill-base.
VOICE: Call a distinct clicking ‘zack’, most like Blackcap’s, also a dry rattling ‘zrrr’ and intermediates. Alarm a sparrow-like rattling series, often more drawn out, faster and feebler-voiced than Barred Warbler’s, ‘zerrrrrrrrr’r’r…’. Occasionally a ‘bubbling’ nasal scold, ‘zett-ett-ett-ett-…’. Song resembles Sardinian’s most, but has slightly slower tempo, lower pitch and more ‘bouncing’, shuttling character between lower, ‘chatting’ warbled notes and high, clear whistled notes; the warble is also more pleasing and sonorous than Sardinian’s.

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