Japanese Swamp Warbler

The Japanese Swamp Warbler, or Marsh Grassbird as it is sometimes known, is only found in east Asia and has a restricted and local distribution.  BirdLife classifies it as “Near Threatened”.  I saw and heard my first one in a reedy field at Dandong, Liaoning Province, this May and it was the memory of the song that came flooding back this morning when, on arrival at Wild Duck Lake, I could hear a bird singing from the reedbed close to the yurts at the western end of Ma Chang.

I was surprised that it was singing, not just because it is now mid-October (some warblers do sing occasionally on autumn migration) but because it was -2 degrees Celsius!

Nevertheless, it sang for over half an hour, just after sunrise, allowing me to make a recording of its song with my Canon EOS 7D.  This bird won’t win any awards for its vocal repertoire, the song being rather repetitive, but it’s a distinctive sound and a joy to hear on a stunningly beautiful, still autumnal dawn at Wild Duck Lake.

Listen to the recording of the Japanese Swamp Warbler by clicking here

Occasionally, it also clambered to the top of a reed, allowing me to capture an image.  At the time I thought it must be a good Beijing record.  After speaking to a couple of locals, it turns out that it is either the second or third record for the capital.  Cool.

Japanese Swamp Warbler (Marsh Grassbird), Locustella pryeri, Ma Chang, Wild Duck Lake, Beijing, 11 October 2012.

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About Terry Townshend

I am a British birder living and birding in Beijing from August 2010 until 2015. Through this blog I hope I can convey a sense of what it is like to live in this thriving, confident and contrasting city and the birdlife that can be found in its environs. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! Terry Townshend, Beijing September 2010
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2 Responses to Japanese Swamp Warbler

  1. Ken Turnip says:

    Another excellent record from you and from Wild Duck Lake. Well done. I’d like to think that I would have recognised it if I had heard one in May… but you must be hearing and learning so many new birds all the time. Very impressive. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Ken. Very kind of you. Beijing is so under-birded that, in reality, this bird could easily be an annual visitor but just not found. That’s the beauty of birding here – almost every trip we discover something, whether it’s an unusual species, an unusual movement of a common species or unusual behaviour.. It’s exciting. And I am by no means a top birder… imagine what some people would find here!

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