Tim writes: Not your classic full-on bird portrait but this is the kind of view you tend to get of Lesser Whitethroat. This was really difficult to capture through a tiny gap in the foliage. They usually skulk about in bushes unless you catch them singing in the spring. This one was collecting insects to feed recently fledged youngsters. Lesser Whitethroats are much less common than Whitethroat in Britain. There are around 74,000 territories of Lesser Whitethroat compared with 1.1 million Whitethroat territories. They breed throughout much of England but peter out in the hills so are less common in the Pennines, Wales, Scotland and the West Country. Most migrant birds cross the Mediterranean area trying to avoid long sea crossings, so most cross at Gibraltar or around the east side (Turkey, Lebanon, Israel) with some filtering down Italy or using Malta as a stepping stone. But Lesser Whitethroats are highly unusual in that the entire population takes the eastern route. That is a long detour for Lesser Whitethroats that breed in France and the UK.
It is a little difficult to identify this as a Lesser Whitethroat as the two best features are difficult to see. But it has dark grey legs, whereas Whitethroat’s are pinky orange. It also lacks Common Whitethroat’s bright chestnut wing panel. You can see through the foliage that the wings look plain.
Mark writes: often when I see a Lesser Whitethroat I think of the Sluice Bushes at Minsmere and an encounter with Bert Axell in about 1974 which is described on p11 of Fighting for Birds.