If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

About Me

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

10 March, 2014

Is the blackcap coming or going?

It may not be a common sight but a blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) in gardens in winter is certainly not unusual. Now to me the blackcap is a welcome summer visitor to our woodlands and hedgerows. Its lovely, intense, warbling song is one of the highlights of spring each year. Frequently the song will be heard but the bird will be difficult to spot as it often sings from the among leaf canopy; a real poor man's nightingale! It is also a bit of a fidget and
keeps moving around!
However, this is not the only side of the blackcap as this picture taken on our garden bird feeders clearly shows! We usually get a least one blackcap visit our garden each winter but I just said that the blackcap is a summer visitor so what is it doing turning up in a Dorset garden in winter? When I started 'birding' nearly forty years ago people were puzzled as to why most blackcaps went south in the autumn but a few stayed behind. Nowadays our knowledge is so much more developed and, thanks to ringing, we now know that these wintering birds are not the same ones that spend the summer here. These are birds from much farther north in Europe and for them the long winter trip south is to us here in southern England.

So, as our wintering blackcaps leave us to return north the summer migrants are coming back to our shores and from mid-April we have the joy of seeing and hearing them in our countryside. 
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