I picked Floss up at his hotel on Carrow Road at 10am (a respectable hour) and we headed first to Whitlingham CP. The morning had started overcast and warm and a big flock of Swifts were feeding above the visitor car park. We counted about thirty at first but by the time we reached the broad it was clear there were far greater numbers in, hundreds in fact flying low over the water hawking insects.
We stopped after about thirty yards to listen to a Reed Warbler which was singing very close to the path. It was within a few feet but stayed well buried singing away happily to itself. A second Reed Warbler was singing further up the path and a nearby Sedge Warbler was giving it a good run for its money also. We could see movements in the long grass but the bird stayed buried deep, however eventually it broke cover and flew a short distance, pausing briefly to sing from a reed stem and pose for a photo.
|Reed Warbler, Whitlingham CP - 12th May 2013|
|Willow Warbler, Whitlingham CP - 12th May 2013|
Further up the path we had several more Blackcaps, Common Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. We stopped to look at a Common Whitethroat around on the north side of the broad when a bird popped out of the brambles. My first impression was of a pale phyllosc but once I got the bins on it I could see it was my old friend the Garden Warbler. This one was certainly much more showey that the other birds we'd seen but it was still difficult to get a clear shot. At one stage a second bird appeared with it suggesting a pair. One of them posed atop a bramble for a second or two, I fired off a couple of frames before we decided that discretion was required and we left them alone.
|Garden Warbler, Whitlingham CP - 12th May 2013|
At the first hide we enjoyed great views of two male Marsh Harriers and a Common Tern hunting and dive-bombing.
We walked over towards the tower hide to look for Garganey, sadly we lucked out on these but enjoyed nice views of hundreds of Swifts over the reed beds and high up in the sky. We could see a single Hobby hawking insects but it stayed at quite a distance. With time ticking on we headed back towards the car stopping off at the first hide for one last look, this time we had not one but two Hobbys. As we tried for shots a third bird appeared and we both had binocular views of all three Hobbys hunting together. They remained distant and the skies had darkened, but three together.......fantastic!
|Record shot - one of three Hobbys at Strumpshaw fen RSPB - 12th May 2013|