Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Completely Unexpected Garden Tick!

21st July - a report from the garden rather than the pit - only a couple of miles away!

We were due to be away for the weekend and planned to leave by 10:30am.  I had got up quite late and chose to have my morning cuppa looking at the birds in the back garden.  It was about 8:30am and there were quite a few Chaffinches and Blue and Great Tits moving through the trees at the back.  To set the scene a bit, my garden is effectively woodland edge, as it borders extensive Chiltern woodland and lies in a wooded valley running down to the Thames.  The garden itself has several mature trees towards the back about 30 yards from the house, including a couple of Beech, an Oak and a stand of Silver Birch which adjoin the wood.  Birds often move through these trees coming in and out of the wood itself.

As I watched, I caught sight of a phylloscopus warbler moving through the Oak and fairly high up - my first since the Spring.  Partially hidden by leaves, it still showed a nice green mantle and very white undersides.  I immediately thought possible Wood Warbler! and went straight outside to the patio to see if I could hear any calls and see the bird better.  Typically, I thought, the bird seemed to have disappeared and I was regretting not having stayed on the bird in the house - another one that's got away!  I sat on the bench and continued to watch the trees.  After about 10 minutes, the warbler suddenly appeared again.  This time it was mid way up the Silver Birches and it showed really well for 10-15 minutes whilst I watched it - a lovely Wood Warbler!  To add to the features I had already seen, the bird showed a lovely yellow throat and upper breast continuing onto the face and supercilium, which was fairly long and broad.  In the morning light, the bill looked basically orangey and seemed to match the colour of its legs.  It typically had very long wings, with the primaries extending right down about half way along its tail - this gave it a curiously short-tailed look.  It was quite active, moving around the trees apparently looking for food, though not as frenetic as Willow/chiffs tend to be and exhibiting none of the tail pumping that Chiffchaffs do.  It was also silent during the time I was watching it.

I was conscious both of the scarcity of the bird and my looming deadline to leave the house and I hadn't yet had breakfast, shaved or packed anything.  I had to leave the bird whilst it was still on show, but phoned a local birder to see if he wanted to come and take a look before I had to leave.  He arrived some 20 minutes later and we both went to the patio to look, but couldn't find the warbler.  After a further 20 minutes with no luck he left, as did I shortly afterwards, so I was unable to keep tabs on whether it had gone for good or just temporarily.

This woodland edge habitat has been quite lucrative over the years and is a habitat type that probably doesn't get watched that much in normal birding, but just happens to be my garden outlook.  To add to this totally unexpected Wood Warbler, I have had 2 Pied Flycatchers and 2 Firecrests in the past as well as the more normal migrants, so it always pays to keep your eyes open!

No comments:

Post a Comment