With the Bluethroat I will start a series of posts that will introduce the birds which are now arriving to winter in the area of the Strait of Gibraltar.
In my post of 30th April, I introduced this species, breeding in the high mountains of the Iberian Peninsula. These birds lacked a spot on the blue throat, a characteristic of the Iberian breeding subspecies azuricollis.
This is one of ten sub-species which are distributed across the Palaearctic and reaching across Bering into Alaska, a feature of only a few Palaearctic species.
But it is another sub-species, the white-spotted cyanecula that reaches these shores for the winter. These birds are coming down from north-western Europe and winter in reed beds in sites like La Janda where they are numerous. The Scandinavian red-spotted svecica sub-species occurs on passage.
the best time to see them is early in the morning when birds sing to establish winter territories. Otherwise, the best views tend to be of birds flying between the reeds when the chestnut panels at the base of the tail give them away.
These birds will stay in the reed beds until next March when they will return north.