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Singing Blackcap, Bristol

West Mall, Clifton 1986

This is early. My records aren’t that comprehensive so I can only tell that I heard a blackcap at Cotswold Water Park on March 13, 1999. Was it in song? Or just doing its chack-chack thing? Most likely the former at this time of year. In which case today’s bird was five days better.

Mind you, it was in the sheltered confines of Clifton, near the Relaxation Centre. Sheltered and relaxed, the perfect combination for a bit of a warble, which is what a blackcap does, being a warbler. A Sylviid babbler technically, the Sylviidae family, which has broken away somewhat from most warblers by having babblers (of course) interrupt the old sequence. After the Sylviidae come the white-eyes and the kinglets, i.e. our goldcrest and so on. That much is familiar from the order of most field guides.

Hardly news now from a year ago is this BBC report about the evolution of the blackcaps that now winter with us. This is one to stick to the rabid creationists: as little as fifty years to start a species down a new path. And all because humans feed birds.

We are God.

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