Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Making a spectacle.....

We're coming to the end of the Spring migration, when the number of "good" birds starts to drop off. One long-stayer though was the spectacled warbler in Norfolk. This male bird has been present at Burnham Overy Staithe for almost 2 weeks now. It is a very rare bird, this being only the 8th accepted record and is easily the longest stayer.
Another very early start (4.15 out the door) got me to Norfolk by just after 6.30. There was already a couple of cars parked up in the lay by. The weather was set fair and I just hoped the bird hadn't done an offsie overnight!
The walk was about 20 minutes to the dunes and I was met by 2 other lads lads coming in the other direction. They'd been down since 5.30 and the bird was showing well. As soon as I got off the board walk I spotted another birder sitting in the dunes pointing a camera at a bush. A loud burst of scratch song, reminiscent of a whitethroat, told me I'd got the bird straight away.

Over the next 90 minutes, in the company of Rob Wilson and another birder from Yorkshire we followed the bird as it moved from bush to bush, feeding and singing happily. most of the time it was sitting up on brambles singing its heart out in a desperate attempt to find a mate. You wonder how long it can keep going till it realises there are no lady spectacled warblers around!

With there only being the three of us on site, we had some cracking views of the bird. There has been a lot of chat on the internet about people getting too close and chasing the bird for good photos. With upwards of a hundred people initially this could be an issue, but when we were there the bird would just do circuits and by letting it settle near us we got really close up views, down to 15 or 20 feet at times. When not shouting the odds from a perch it would settle into the bushes and disappear for a few minutes, but then you could find it again lurking around, often giving if not a full song then a lighter sub-song from the cover.

Of course, all this exercise made it hungry and so it did stop occasionally to have a bit of a pit stop. We did see it catch this lovely big caterpillar which it seemed to enjoy!

Sorry for the large number of photos but with a bird as stunning and rare as this and being so confiding it's a shame not to show what a cracking little gem it was. I'll leave you with another extended video of it calling away.