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I love the wonderful variety of vernacular names that have been given to the Whitethroat (Sylvia communis), local references to the bird’s love of hedgerows and bramble patches and farm fields, and its rasping singing style, and its plumage.

Flora Britannica lists the following, amongst many others: Beardie (Scotland) and Wheetie whey beard (Angus); Blethering tam (Scotland); Charlie muftie (Northamptonshire) and Muffit (Stirlingshire); Nettle creeper (North Yorkshire); Hay jack (Norfolk) and Haysucker (Devon) and Hedge chicken (Shropshire).

Flora Britannica also notes how fragile British bird populations can be: ‘There was a dramatic fall in numbers of Whitethroats after 1968, which was traced to severe drought in the southern Sahara and the death of large numbers of migrating birds which used up their fat reserves on their journey from further south in Africa’. Judging by the volume of ‘blethering’ I’m hearing in local parks and fields, the Whitethroat population has recovered well from that setback in the ‘60s but, given the global climate emergency, the future of all our beautiful birds is uncertain.

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