Sunday 30 March 2014

Dunwich's Dartfords

After 'bashing the bushes' along the east coast yesterday, today I decided to forget all that rarity hunting stuff and try and take some photographs.
With warm temperatures, clear skies and just a light wind, I thought it might be time to try for some Dartford Warbler shots down at Dunwich Heath in Suffolk. Probably I should have gone early in the morning to give myself the best chance, but with the clocks going forward and the want of a lie-in (as Saturday I was up at 5am), it was 12 noon before I reached Dunwich Heath itself. I met two other photographers who were half-way through their second day there and hadn't anything to show for their troubles. They said the birds were present but not coming close enough for good shots. A week ago a male had being singing in the gorse by the car-park and was so close and fearless that people were stepping up with 'point and clicks' and getting photographs. Well that was a week ago and today was different.
I got my gear ready and headed off to look for some diminutive Sylvias. It took a while to find any but once I located a smart male Stonechat, finding the Dartford's was easy. I'm not sure why they do hang out together, I presume there is some kind of loose symbiotic relationship, perhaps something to do with disturbing insects or maybe the Stonechats act as good sentinels, I haven't found anything on Google about it just yet.
Anyway, getting a shot was very difficult. The other two photographers joined me but none of us had any luck. Must have spent about four hours waiting for them to come close but it didn't happen. In the end I headed back to the car for a late lunch (it was 4pm). I thought about packing it in and heading home but I decided to give it one more go with another couple of birds that were slightly closer to the car park.
One of these was slightly less elusive and although it was distant, it did finally sit up on the heather for a couple of reasonable shots. I'd love to have one of these perched in the yellow furze within about 15 feet and then the results would be stunning. But the moment these efforts below will have to do.

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