4 Jun 2014

In the year that keeps on giving - Spectacled Warbler!

The last twitchable Spectacled Warbler in the UK was May the 10th 2008. It broke late afternoon as we were half way through a 24hr Cheshire bird race. All thoughts of getting to Suffolk before dark were shelved as it was already late afternoon. I couldn't go the next day but hopes were high it would stick as it was singing and nest building. Next morning it had gone! There have been two other subsequent records, both suppressed for various reasons and both only present for a single day.

Spectacled Warbler was one of the species Steve & I were talking about on the long journey back from the Short-toed Eagle trip - that and Blue Rock Thrush (you've heard it here first). We were surmising it was about time there was another gettable bird.

Sure enough one turned up Monday. With work commitments and no vehicle until late afternoon I wasn't going to make it that day but a meeting Tuesday in Derby provided me with the perfect launch pad if it was still present. It was & I endured a frustratingly slow journey across Norfolk before a 2 km yomp out from the village of Burnham Overy Staithe to the dune and sueda the bird was inhabiting.

It could be extremely elusive at times although easily located by its song and rattling call. I was lucky enough to see it within minutes of arriving before it shot off deep into some scrub. Whereas others moved along the dunes to try and relocate it I stayed put guessing it would do a circuit. A few minute later it shot past where Neil Bostock & I were standing and perched up briefly in a bush before disappearing into the sueda.
Others, realising we were probably watching the bird, came across and we pointed out where it had disappeared. One guy even asked if we were sure it was it as he hadn't seen it fly our way and he was sure it was the other end of the dune slack. I showed him the photograph..................

Views were brief as the Spectacled Warbler gathered nesting material and skulked low in the undergrowth giving an occasional rattle. Some people don't seem quick enough to get on skulkers or are to busy talking to look themselves so a few were still getting frustrated about not seeing it. To everyone's relief it suddenly appeared at the top of the sueda trying to pull a piece off for nesting material and everyone got prolonged scope filling views. Knowing the distance  I would have had to lug the camera equipment and 'scope I only took the small lens and these shots are heavily cropped. At least they show the distinctive dark lores and orange legs!

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