Monday 6 June 2016

Scratching the itch

I wasn't expecting the Gunton, Suffolk Greenish Warbler to be too easy but I was at least expecting to see it and add the species to my UK list (I've had a couple in Ireland and even a few singing males in the garden in Latvia). On Friday night the cool northerly airflow remained in place and it was foggy until after dawn. This, I thought, meant it would be still about. But sadly on Saturday morning there was no sign. I stayed on site until around 10am but had to give it up in the end. The best there was a Spotted Flycatcher and a Lesser Whitethroat.

Spotted Flycatcher, Gunton, Suffolk
I thought about cutting the day short and heading back to Norwich and in the process putting some "brownie points" in the bank for use later. However, I had this strange unfulfilled feeling!! I think the disappointment of my non-event trip to Kolka Cape, Latvia the previous month (see A Mixed Week in Latvia and now having dipped on what I thought was a dead cert Greenish Warbler - well, I couldn't just call it a day and go home - that'd be like giving up.
The weather was warming up and Dunwich Heath wasn't too far away - maybe I might get a decent Dartford warbler photo?? If past experience was anything to go by, that would be a long shot, but why not try at least.
I expected Dunwich to be busier but I think the crowds were probably over at Minsmere following the Springwatch lot. In fact at 11am Dunwich Heath had hardly any cars at all in the carpark. I strolled out along the path into the heath and passing the stand of trees at the picnic area I even managed to flush a Nightjar which had I think been roosting on a branch - darn, if only I had seen it first, would have made a lovely photo - oh well!
Anyway, it didn't take too long to find a singing male Dartford Warbler. As usual it never really came anywhere close to the pathway and preferred to sing further back on the heather and gorse. I think you would really need a good bit of time and patience to capture a decent full-frame shot of one of these birds. I had about an hour so I didn't do too bad I suppose and I even managed a brief movie clip.

Male Dartford Warbler, Dunwich Heath, Suffolk

After that I felt I had "scratched the itch" a little and headed back to Norwich. The day that I grumble about seeing "only" a Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Dartford Warbler and Nightjar is the day I should hang up the bins really.
As it happened though the bird of the weekend wasn't that far away in the end. Saturday evening Polina and I had the grill out again in the back garden, I added two ticks to my garden list namely Swallow and.......get this......Marsh Harrier. So that's 47 species seen or heard from the garden / house in the six months we've lived there. I hadn't high hopes of seeing much when we moved there, I mean its in a housing estate after all but so far I've had Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Red Kite and Arctic Tern as my own personal highlights and locally I've had Lesser 'throat, Nightingale, Hobby, Great White Egret and Garden Warbler to name but a few - no bad at all I say!