Warbler of the Woodlands
With the early arrival of the migrants this year, I decided to bring forward my annual pilgrimage to photograph one of my favourite small birds, the Wood Warbler.
I have visited the same western oak woods in North Wales for the past three or so years. It is a very beautiful place and made all the more special by the electric trilling song of a few Wood Warblers. For those who have not had the good fortune to encounter this species, this small green, white and yellow bird tends to favour the tree canopy where it flutters between regular singing perches like a large moth.
By its habit it creates difficulties for photography but at the site I visit there are a series of rock terraces up one side of the valley, which once climbed, put you level with the birds. The lighting is always a challenge with it's constantly changing patterns through the leaves above.
Once up and amongst the birds they appear quite oblivious to your presence and almost curious. On this occasion I had a the bird stay with for an extended period allowing to happily take many photographs.
I love the colour combination of these birds the pure white of the belly, the pale green of the back and the lemon yellow throat. this combination no doubt provides them with good camouflage in the canopy.
Despite their colouration they are quite easy to locate by the amazing song that penetrates the woodland. The call is a rather mournful descending note usually repeated 3 or 4 times but the songs is an accelerating staccato trill.
I have heard the song compared to a spinning coin on a plate which describes its increasing tempo well but does not convey the purity of sound.
Unusually for a bird with such a fondness for the tree tops it nests on the ground. Unfortunately like many of the bird species in the UK, the Wood warbler is sadly declining. These woodlands would be greatly diminished in their atmosphere by it loss, making the protection of these remaining western oak wood areas so important.
A memorable day with a stunning little bird and if you have time to spare in May definitely one that is worth making the effort to go and find.