Warblers are summer visitors to this country, and there are four that regularly inhabit Mercer Wood – Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat.
All four species can be regularly heard singing in Mercer Wood.
Chiffchaffs are the first to arrive. The earliest record I have for one in this area was in 2014 when one was heard singing on the riverside on March 11th. The first Chiffchaff of 2017 was singing in Mercer Wood on March 15th (with another on the same day at Morton). They were slightly later this year, with the first heard in Mercer Wood on March 24th.
There is a photo of a Chiffchaff in Mercers Wood in our gallery
Chiffchaff (picture from Wikipedia)
The earliest record I have for a Blackcap was in 2017 when there was one singing on the riverside on March 28th. The first ones this year was on April 8th, when there was one singing in Mercer Wood and two females in the trees surrounding Rose’s Sports Field.
There are photos of a Blackcap in Mercers Wood in our gallery
male and female Blackcap (picture from Wikipedia)
Willow Warblers generally don’t arrive until April. The earliest record I have was in 2017, when there was one singing in Mercer Wood on April 10th. The earliest this year was also in Mercer Wood, on April 14th.
Willow Warbler (picture from Wikipedia)
The earliest record I have for a Whitethroat was in 2013, when there was one singing on Field Lane just outside Morton on April 23rd.The earliest this year was May 1st when there were two singing on Walkerith Road.
Whitethroat (picture from Wikipedia)
All four of these species can also be seen and heard along the riverside, at Castle Hill Wood, and at Gainsborough Cemetery.
Whitethroats are also commonly seen at Beckingham Marsh.
Another species that visits the Gainsborough area is the Sedge Warbler. This can be regularly heard singing along both sides of the riverside. The best place to hear them is either on the opposite bank near the woodyard, or on this side of the river beyond Morton. They have been heard in the overgrown area between Mercer Wood and Bowling Green Road. Sedge Warblers are very hard to see, but with a lot of patience and a bit of luck you might catch a glimpse of one.
Sedge Warbler (picture from Wikipedia)
There are four other species of warbler that are known to have passed through the Gainsborough area.
There was a Garden Warbler in Mercer Wood during May 2013. I saw another there on May 3rd 2017 which could still be heard singing there three days later before it disappeared.
Garden Warbler (picture from Wikipedia)
There was a Lesser Whitethroat in the overgrown area between Mercer Wood and Bowling Green Road during May 2013. Another was heard singing from the opposite bank of the riverside (opposite Mercer Wood) on May 4th 2017.
Lesser Whitethroat (picture from Wikipedia)
In the summer of 2013 there were three Grasshopper Warblers in this area. One inhabited the scrubland adjacent to Mercer Wood, another was in the bushes in the field at the Morton end of the Riverside footpath, and one was on the opposite side of the river (about midway between the woodyard and Morton Turn). By standing on the riverside by Rose’s Sports Field, it was possible to hear all three Grasshopper Warblers simultaneously. Sadly, this was a “one summer only” experience.
In 2014 and 2015 the “Morton” Grasshopper Warbler returned, but the other two didn’t. I even managed to get a glimpse of it on May 3rd 2014. But after 2015 it has not returned.
Grasshopper Warbler (picture from Wikipedia)
There were four Reed Warblers on Field Lane just beyond Morton on Aug 12th 2018, and two on the riverside at Morton on May 5th 2019.
Reed Bunting (picture from Wikipedia)