I remember, from my childhood days of flicking through bird books, being fascinated by the unusual looks Dartford Warbler which was described as a rare and secretive bird. Move forward in time to the present and it became a species that came high up on my ever expanding list of birds to see and photograph.
I arrived at my chosen area just as the early morning sun was peeking above the horizon and filtering through the early morning mist. As the mists started to clear so did my confidence as spread out before me was hundreds of acres of low gorse bushes. Finding the bird could be trickier than I thought. Anyway I set off towards a low ridge line where most of the birds had been sighted in the old reports. After quite a bit of wandering round I heard an unfamiliar scratchy warbler and to my disbelieve a beautiful looking male, bathed in early morning light, appeared on a bush next to me and started singing.
Dartford Warbler video. The illustrations in my childhood books really had not done this beautiful bird justice but I was quite surprised how much smaller the bird was than the image in my head. In fact it was tiny which no doubt does not help it plight in cold weather. I stayed with the bird for about an hour until a female appeared in response to his constant song.
My second encounter with Dartford Warblers unexpectedly happened much closer to home. The nearest and mostly northerly population is a few bird in the Midlands region. During the very cold winter of 2010 / 2011 it appears one of the male birds was displaced in its search for food to an upland area in North Wales. This bird quickly became popular with photographers, and as I tend to avoid the crowds, I only visited when it had gone quiet again when it was assumed the bird had disappeared. However, this was not the case. The need for the Schedule 1 Licence was not necessary for a non-breeding solitary male but I still sought permission to photograph the bird from the authorities in the late spring period. I undertook two visits to take some photograph and quickly located the bird from the now characteristic song as it flitted between low bushes and gorse.