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Front-cover photograph: Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis, India, September 2022. 

Saswat Mishra


122      News and comment   Maddy Hine and Russ Malin

127      Song variation in the Zitting Cisticola Ralph Martin

143      Adult ‘American Black Tern’ summering in Northumberland 

            Ross Ahmed 

157      A wreck of Puffins in the North Sea in late 2021       Mike P. Harris, Vegard Sandøy Bråthen, Norman Elkins, Mark A. Newell and Sarah Wanless  

168      Structure and possible functions of the tail ‘needles’ in the White-throated Needletail                 Hiroyoshi Higuchi, Hiroshi Yonekawa, Sayaka Mori, Satoshi Konno, Miwa Konno and Noriyuki M. Yamaguch

172      Adult ‘American Black Tern’ summering in Northumberland: postscript

174      Reviews

177      My patch


‘Zit… zit… zit…’

There can be few birders who have spent time in the vicinity of a wetland in southern Europe, Africa or Asia and not been serenaded by the persistent, high-pitched song of a Zitting Cisticola. It’s a sound that’s so simple and repetitive that it quickly disappears into the background, becoming just another piece of the soundscape along with grasshoppers and distant cowbells. Few of us – myself included – will have ever paused to listen to one for too long or in too much detail; but perhaps we’ve been missing something. Despite it being one of the simplest songs around, analysis of sonograms has unearthed considerable variation. More intriguing still, this variation broadly clusters geographically across the species’ range, suggesting that the distribution of the different songs may be more than just coincidental. With at least two Zitting Cisticola dialects recorded from just across the English Channel in northern France and Belgium, perhaps reaching for the sound recorder ought to be a priority for the lucky finder of the next British record – in this age of cryptic species and unexpected splits, it’s always worth future-proofing any record! 

Issue 3
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