Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ode to a Nightingale

What a difference a week can make. The winds finally turned around to the south and the migrants have been steadily arriving.
I'm still buzzing from my Red-flanked Bluetail find last Sunday but with spring finally here there was no time for laurel resting! With a report of a Nightingale singing at nearby Whitlingham broad, I contacted James Emerson who very kindly gave me precise directions to locate the bird.
I tried hard to get out of work early but was still there at 6pm, nonetheless I made it home by 6.30pm, scoffed half a pizza and was parking up at Whitlingham before 7pm.
I took the path along the north side of the great broad. A different place from my last visit in mid- January for Slavonian Grebe. Back then the paths were covered in frozen snow, the east wind was cruel and parts of the broad frozen. But this evening as I walked, the air was mild, people were jogging and the summer migrants were out in force. Chiffchaffs and Willows Warblers sang while Swallows hunted over the water.
I reached the site and noted three female Blackcaps and one male Blackcap in the pussy willows. I wondered if I was in the right place when after five minutes I got a brief snatch of Nightingale song. From then on it sang on and off until shortly before I left. But getting views of it was another thing. It stayed very well concealed (as they do) and the light had faded quite a bit before I finally caught a glimpse of it sitting on a low bramble chattering away to itself. The following shot is taken through stems of foliage, highly cropped and high ISO - hence the crappiness. But it is the first Nightingale I've seen in either Britain or Ireland so it'll do for starters!

Nightingale, Whitlingham CP, Norfolk - 16th April 2013
A Cetti's Warbler chipped in a few times with its explosive song but I never caught sight of it and I was sure I could hear a Sedge Warbler babbling away from time to time also, more of a plastic song than fully crystallized but again no sighting. Meanwhile the Nightingale continued to sing, occasionally adding in a series plaintive single note whistles........'lu, lu, lu, lu'.....as it went up the scale. Beautiful! I was joined briefly by two other local birders who sadly failed to see it. The bird fell silent for ten minutes and with the light now really gone, I called it a day.......but a good day at that!
My thanks again to James Emerson, please check his excellent blog on birding around Whitlingham CP, Beer and birds blog

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