Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler are a little bit like Blackcap and Garden Warbler – not that they look like those species, or sound like those species, but that they are similar to each other in song and one (in this case the Sedge Warbler) usually gets back to the UK a good week or 10 days before the other (in this case Reed Warbler).
I won’t encounter either of them in my garden but they will be just a few miles away in the Nene Valley singing away as I write this.
Sedge Warblers are streaky and have that creamy stripe just above the eye whereas Reed Warblers are brown and unstreaked. Reed Warblers live mostly in reedbeds (this is a well-named species) whereas Sedge Warblers also live in reedbeds but also in wet habitats away from reeds, and in scrub away from wetlands just sometimes.
So, if you are standing by a reedbed and hear a chattering long song coming from the reeds you’ll have to work out (if you give a fig – maybe you just want to enjoy the sound anyway) whether it is Reed or Sedge.
Sedge Warblers come back first, so let’s start with them. They have a staccato, chattering, jerky song. Here are some examples, the first from Finland;
And this one from Belgium:
And here is one from Norfolk, UK:
See what I mean by staccato and harsh? It’s a good song, but not a meodious one – it’s probably punk not easy listening? It sometimes sounds as though the bird is wondering whether to stop and start again, to me.
Whereas the Reed Warbler is more tuneful, steadier and just chunters on and on and on like somebody in a pub who doesn’t really care whether anyone else is listening or not, he just keeps on and on. Maybe that’s a little unfair, see what you think:
The first from Sweden:
Then this one from France:
And a last one from a sewage farm in Surrey, UK, recorded yesterday:
So, do you agree? Sedge Warbler harsh and staccato, Reed Warbler more musical but chuntering?