Down South - Part 1
Last week I had to take a journey down south for a couple of days with the rather grim task of attending a funeral. To ease the sad occasion I decided to take my camera so that I could fit in a short morning session on the following day. I did some research on the Internet to see what could be found in the locality of where I was staying and came up with a very ambitious plan to try and photograph three new bird species. I will describe this session over two Blog posts.
The first species on the 'hit list' is a bird that I have longed to see and wanted to photograph, the Dartford Warbler. A scarce bird at the northern limit of its range that does not suffer harsh winters well and the UK has just had its coldest in 30 years. Dartford Warblers inhabit areas of heathland and usually reside in gorse bushes so that is where I decided to concentrate my searching.
5:30am found me stood in a slightly raised carpark overlooking a valley of heath land. A stunningly beautiful morning. The air was still with a little mist and frost in the valley, the sky turning orange with the rising sun and the only sounds to draw the attention being the dawn chorus of birdsong. 20 minutes later and I had crossed the valley and reached the area I intended to search for the birds. I was met by acres upon acres of gorse bushes which dented my confidence on finding this shy and skulking species. It was time to start listening hard for warbler song, which to my joy I heard and almost at the same time saw a small dark bird flutter between two bushes. I had found one. The bird was regularly popping up on top of a few selected bushes
I quietly and slowly moved position to another well used perch to try and get more blue in the sky for a background.
I wanted to finish off with trying to get some plain coloured backgrounds on the photos. The heathland vegetation can create some wonderful coloured backgrounds. To achieve this I need to be at a higher angle and stood by a tall gorse bush in camo gear next to another perching area.
One last photograph of this songster in the early morning light. His singing efforts paid off as a female bird appeared signalling it was time for me to slip quietly away and leave them to their spring courtship.
It was only 8am as I made my way back across the valley to the car wearing a broad smile with the first and most difficult part of my plan complete. It was time to move on to the next site to try and photograph the other two new species.