Myles E. W. North
19 Jun 1955
- Marsabit Mountain
- 2.2 38.0
- 1300 meters
Recorder: Ampex 401 Microphone: Altec 633
Habitat: Forest edge
Recordist Note: "In 1941, in southern Ethiopia, Mr. C.W. Benson discovered this bird and was convinced (rightly, I am sure) that it was a new species. However, when he came to work out his specimens at the Coryndon Museum with Dr. V.G.L. van Someren, he found that it could not be distinguished from C. chiniana. See Ibis, 1946:199. So the matter rested.
In 1955, I re-discovered this bird in a new locality - Marsabit Mountain - by the song, which was unfamiliar to me and which I could not place - and the bird was singing beside the District Commissioner's house.
Later that year, in June, I spent some days here with Mr. J.G. Williams and made the sound recordings given here, and also collected six birds, three of them singing. The locality was 2 miles down the Songa Gambela road from the DC's office, on the forest edge, with croton trees, bushes, etc. where the bird was very common. The same year I recorded the bird's song near Kapenguria (LNS 14351) and heard it at about 6400 feet on the escarpment down from Timau to Isiolo, 29 miles short of Isiolo.
Towards the end of 1955 (16Dec1955) I was on leave in England and took my Marsabit series to the British Museum, Natural history, where Messrs Grant and Macdonald kindly examined these together with Mr. Benson's series and a representative series of C. chiniana, and they found the "Borans" could not be distinguished from chiniana, even as a race! So the matter rests! In default of a morphological distinction, this species cannot be named.
The voice (always so diagnostic with Cisticolas) is totally different from that of chiniana. The song is a short and monotonous little cadence, taking only about a second, and uttered again and again, entirely different from the highly variable song of chiniana, with its trills. The scold is a weak little call, quite unlike the loud searing "chaare" of chiniana."
ML: Subject changed from Cisticola sp. to C. bodessa based on the recordist's voice announcement and the recommendation of James Bradley. -Matt Medler, 31 Oct 2013.