Having got back from Wembley late yesterday evening today, I had a late start today. The suited a trip down to Cambridgeshire for the Great Reed Warbler nicely, as it showed best in the evening. With nothing else to twitch on the cards I decided to make my move over that way, arriving on site at around 13.30.
I was very impressed with the reserve. Once on site I was surrounded by migrants singing, all properly going for it and blasting out their calls. Of course the real songsters were the Nightingales that this reserve is famous for, but I only saw one of about ten that I heard. That being said, I did not really stop and look hard for them, desperate to make my way to where the Great Reed Warbler was singing from.
I did stop though when I heard a Garden Warbler singing from behind me. This is one of the most difficult species for me to ever get on my yearlist for some reason. I heard the call but it took a moment to click that actually that probably wasn't a Blackcap but a Garden Warbler. Typically it was elusive but I did get nice views through the bins before it flew into a bramble patch. Thats a real yearlisting weight off my shoulders.
There were so many other birds around, including a handful of Hobby, Cuckoo, Common Tern and then my first Dragonflies and Damselflies of the year. The dragonflies looked like hairy dragonflies but they did not land so I could not say for certain. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the reserve, so much so a part of me wished I had set off earlier to I could have had more time to look around.
As it turns out I did have time to look around, but that I spent it at the reedbed where the Great Reed Warbler was supposed to be. Four and a half hours in fact was the time that I waited for the bird to show itself. All the while it spluttered elements of its call out from the base of the reeds. After about two and a half hours wait it did eventually start to sing properly, followed by almost continual singing. The main problem was that it was quite breezy and the moving reeds would have made the bird disinclined to sit up. Also the positioning of us, in a small window surrounded by trees made it very difficult to judge where the bird was actually singing from.
Time passed and my optimism for seeing the bird began to drop, knowing that it probably would not be coming out in the wind. Then, as I was browsing through the reeds, by some miracle, I got it, sat up among the reeds. It was not at the top but was in the open. I gave the other birders the directions for it, and then began to try and get some photos. It was quite distant but the view through the scope was fantastic. You were able to watch it sing, and observe the mouth movements for each individual call element. It was really something to watch.
I must say though that I was really quite underwhelmed by the birds size, I had imagined something more like a starling or thrush, but (Possibly because it was sat on its own, all other Reed Warblers had hunkered down) it just did not seem that big. But the call was fantastic and it was awesome to be able to watch it out in the open at last. However it only sat up for around 10 minuets before it dropped down again. Given how long I had already waited I did not fancy waiting any longer.
-Great Reed Warbler
After so long it was an incredible relief to have finally seen it. And it was worth the wait, only problem was the new digiscoping method I had trailed on it, which seemed to have worked in the field was badly overexposed when I returned home. Possibly due to it being early evening (18.50ish) so the light had all but failed for photography. Still, I managed to get a few record shots which I am pleased with, to some degree...
Paxton Pits NR: Chaffinch, Robin, Mute Swan, Coot, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Cormorant, Greylag Goose, Garden Warbler, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Hobby, Jackdaw, Cuckoo, Common Tern, Nightingale, Tufted Duck, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Common Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Kingfisher, Blackbird, Moorhen, Willow Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Yellowhammer, Herring Gull,