[order] Passeriformes | [family] Sylviidae | [latin] Acrocephalus agricola | [UK] Paddyfield Warbler | [FR] Rousserolle isabelle | [DE] eldrohrsänger | [ES] Carricero agrícola | [IT] Cannaiola di Jerden | [NL] Veldrietzanger

Veldrietzanger determination

copyright: Helmut Schenkel Brunner

Close in size to Reed Warbler but with stubbier bill, noticeably shorter wings, and slightly longer tail. Medium-sized, robust, quite bold but skulking warbler, resembling Reed Warbler and other unstreaked Acrocephalus. Varies from dusky olive-brown through reddish and almost orange-brown to sandy-brown. Shows rather short, but quite broad, cream or buff supercilium, dark-centred tertials, and rufous rump. Behaviour includes pronounced raising of tail. Sexes similar, some seasonal variation.

Breeds in continental, dry, warm mid-latitudes, in lowlands at least in west Palearctic, extralimital situation being confused by changes in taxonomic status of A. concinens. Mostly in stands of tall, thick-stemmed reed on open-water side of reedbed.

Acrocephalus agricola is a summer visitor to the eastern European countries adjoining the Black Sea, with Europe accounting for a tiny proportion of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>470,000 pairs), and increased between 1970-1990. Although the small population in Turkey declined during 1990- 2000, key populations in Romania and Russia were stable or increased respectively, and the species probably increased slightly overall.

Chiefly insects, taken from surface of emergent and waterside vegetation. Will also cling sideways on plant stem and lunge to snap up insects from water surface.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km2. It has a large global population, including an estimated 930,000-1,800,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Breeds May-June in Black Sea area. Nest is a tightly constructed cylindrical cup of reed and grass leaves and stems, woven round 2-8 vertical stems of water plants. Lined with finer grasses and read flowers, occasionally with plant down. 3-6 eggs are laid, incubation 12-13 days by female only.

All populations migratory, wintering (except tangorum) in Pakistan east to Assam, in southern Nepal, and throughout peninsular India (none in Sri Lanka). Main autumn movement August-September. In west of range, north-east Bulgaria, Rumania, and Crimea, recorded until mid- or late September. Birds apparently head east via northern Caspian region and Kazakhstan; high numbers occur in Ural valley, July-September. Passage at times extremely numerous with over 150 caught daily, chiefly late July to early September, continuing to late September. Peak passage of immatures in first and last weeks of August. Recorded on passage through mountains up to 5000 meter. Spring migration begins in March, with records in India until late May. Occurs in small numbers north-west of breeding range in both passage seasons. Birds in Britain and Ireland are presumably mostly reverse migrants: 13 autumn records, of which 11 mid-September to late October, and only 1 in spring. Those in Finland apparently chiefly overshooting.