Monday, 22 September 2014

Dartford Warblers

This blog should have been called Wryneck but I have managed to dip on two more birds, one in the fields to the east of Budds Farm sewerage works and the other on the North Wall at Pagham Harbour. You would think that would have made for a disappointing day but the Red-backed Shrike and a couple of Dartford Warblers on Hayling Island gave us some good birding even if sandwiched between failures on the Wryneck at the beginning and end of the day.

Budds Farm is always worth a visit, great ponds even if you have the sewerage works as a backdrop and always the chance of some unusual ducks during the winter. There is a wonderful Willow tree there that has recently been taken over by the Herons and Egrets. It looks ok at the moment but I doubt the tree will last very long with all the extra fertiliser that it is going to get.

Heron and Egret Roost

There have been a couple of reported sightings of the Wryneck at Budds Farm and I have made two seperate visits to look for it but both with no success. There were plenty of Willchaffs and a large Long-tailed Tit flock but nothing else of real interest other than a Grey Seal out in the harbour and a Small Copper abberation.

Long-tailed Tit

A well worn Small Copper ab.caeruleopunctata 

We moved on to Sandy Point on Hayling Island to get Dave his year tick on the Red-backed Shrike. Fortunately this was easier to spot than the Wryneck. You cannot enter the Nature Reserve so all my shots are a bit distant. I had been hoping to improve on the ones I had taken last week but these look no better.

Red-backed Shrike

and with captured moth

The surprise was in finding at least two Dartford Warblers on the site. When the Shrike ducked out of view we started watching a a small group, possibly a family, of Stonechats moving around the reserve. They were easy to spot sitting out on top of the brambles and gorse but they were being accompanied by a couple of birds that looked darker and always disappeared into the vegetation below them. We eventually got decent views and it was clear that they were Dartford Warblers.

They are never easy to photograph and this is the best image that I managed to get

Dartford Warbler

I had always thought that Dartfords and Stonechats were competitors for territory but here they formed a definite flock. Whenever the Stonechats moved on the Dartfords would follow and go into cover in the bush on which the Stonechats had perched.


Finally we moved on to Pagham North Wall, to be told that a Wryneck had been showing well there for most of the day. Not for us though. We waited a couple of hours and had one view of a woodpecker type flight between two low bushes but it was not enough to confirm the sighting.

Have a look at the Pagham Birders site for some great shots including one with the bird sticking its tongue out. Great timing by Trevor in getting the shot, not so good by us in turning up too late.

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