Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Dartford Warblers

Having had a disappointing days birding yesterday we decided to head inland today and visit Iping Common. Yesterday had been ruined by a weather forecast that had got it completely wrong. The promised day of sunshine and clear skies through to late afternoon had in fact lasted to about ten in the morning when a cold wind, dark skies, and a general air of gloom settled over us.

Today's forecast had changed from strong winds and storms to yet again a promise of clear skies and sun. We were sceptical, with some justification as it turned out, but decided to give the birding a go anyway.

On arriving at the common we headed up to the north west corner where a large birch tree covered in bracket fungus is located. The target was the reported Great Grey Shrike and the tree is a perch that has been favoured by previous Shrikes visiting the common.

Our initial search did not locate the Shrike but we were quickly sidetracked by a small flock of Goldcrests and then by a Dartford Warbler that Dave managed to locate. The shrike eventually returned to the Birch tree and we had good if distant views of the bird.

Great Grey Shrike

A walk around the common gave us some of the usual birds and then another pair of Dartford Warblers. It also signalled the onset of another overcast sky and eventually of rain. The score so far is BBC weather forecasters  0 , the weather  2.

The Dartford Warblers are always difficult to photograph. They are fast moving and tend to stay in cover but they are a beautiful looking bird and a great prize for the photographer who gets a clear shot.

Dartford Warbler

We had plenty of sightings over a period of about an hour but there were few good picture opportunities. The birds would stop and look at us and when they moved out of the Gorse into the Birch saplings you had some reasonable views but there were usually twigs or small branches obstructing the views. It was all very frustrating but eventually I managed a clear shot.

Dartford Warbler

Still not perfect but easily my best shot of a Dartford Warbler to date.

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