The male blackcap has been about all day today, feeding on the log feeders, the sieves and the sunflower hearts. I was interested to know a bit more about why they are appearing now in the garden… are these overwintering here?
I found some interesting facts on the BTO website, which I thought others might be interested in too…….
The Blackcap has traditionally been viewed as a summer visitor to Britain but the Garden BirdWatch reporting rate now shows a distinct winter peak in the use of gardens, a pattern that reflects a remarkable evolutionary event.
The Blackcap is a somewhat stocky warbler only slightly smaller than a Chaffinch in size. Both sexes are a dirty grey above. Males are dusky-grey below, while females and immatures are warmer buff-grey. Adult males display the black cap that gives the species its common name. Females have a warm-brown cap that is also shared by immature males. During the autumn, the immature males moult their warm-brown cap to reveal the black cap of an adult male.
Over recent decades there has been a rapid increase in the numbers of Blackcaps wintering in Britain & Ireland, with most of these birds benefiting from the supplementary food being provided in gardens. Recent work has shown that these wintering birds are not British & Irish breeders. Instead they are birds from the central European breeding population that have adapted their normal migratory strategy to use new wintering areas (migration in Blackcaps has a strong genetic component) in Britain & Ireland. The decision not to travel south across the Sahara Desert may have some clear benefits, boosting overwinter survival and leading to an increase in breeding success.
Working from home today, I was able to capture some footage of this handsome warbler visiting some of the feeders. Although their colours are muted, I think that these birds are most attractive… such a beautiful shape….