Mayday warbling

garden warbler 3

Garden warbler, Idle Valley

On Monday May 1st, Alison suggested we go to Whisby nature reserve near Lincoln for the afternoon birding.

This was our second visit; we went last year in July, but did hear the nightingale sing, even though it was a little late.  Alison really wanted to see it this year – I did too, of course.  Last year there was also a Mediterranean gull, just one pair among the hundreds of black headed gulls.

Anyway, we arrived and started to look at all the sandbanks rising out of the shallow lakes.  Alison shouted, “Lee!  A Mediterranean gull!”  Its dark shiny black head and blood red bill really stood out amidst the black headeds.  “It’s come back!” we said, what a great start!

med gull

Mediterranean gull, Whisby

We walked for ages and became engrossed in getting our first  picture of a garden warbler, but another birder shared with us how difficult they were to capture.  We heard so many, and followed their beautiful song, which is similar to the blackcap, but sharper and melodious, considered second only to the nightingale.

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Garden warbler, Idle Valley

We spent hours but never got a picture of one.  But on the way back I heard the nightingale singing, and Alison actually watched it singing away through her binoculars only 3 feet away: one of the best birding moments of her life.  I got a picture although it’s not brilliant, it’s a nightingale (fantastic)!

We then decided to go on the hunt for the garden warbler again, but we came away without a picture of one.

We had seen one previously one Saturday afternoon down the river heading towards Belmoor quarries, so I decided to make the garden warbler my aim for the following day.  2.30p.m., off I went.  I walked for three and a half hours, and succeeded in my task.  These pictures are the splendid garden warbler.  It took a while, but my patience paid off.  As you can see, it’s a fairly bland looking bird, or so it says in the bird books – I think it has a certain charisma.

A first for Alison and me, and after Monday’s failings it was a delight to see two of them.  They’re summer visitors to much of Europe, and favour thick shrub and dense woodland undergrowth.  I stood and listened to them sing for 15 minutes or so.  It made the bank holiday weekend really special: “A warbling May day extravaganza!”

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Garden warbler, Idle Valley

We’ve heard two cuckoos in different places since writing this.  I’ve seen one fly off and Alison heard her first yesterday.  Pictures to come hopefully!





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