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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wood Warbler at East Wretham Heath NWT!

East Wretham Heath NWT

I was editing pictures until 2am which obviously resulted in getting up rather late this morning! Continued to finish pictures when I got up, then had lunch and then escaped!

East Wretham Heath NWT
Can't remember what time I arrived now, but think it was around 3.30pm. I had seen the forecast and could see that it was going to be sunny, late this afternoon, more so here than on the Norfolk coast! A couple of friends at Cley reported that it was freezing cold, drizzling with rain and no birds this morning. My plan was to find the Wood Warbler and take spectacular pictures (ha ha).

As I pulled up into the carpark, I noticed Ashley Saunders was also here (Oriole Birding Tours) with a group of people and they were part way along the footpath on the heath, intently viewing something distantly. When I caught up with them, I discovered they were watching fox cubs playing – how cute were they!!! Four of them playing and tumbling in the sunshine – fabulous! I went on ahead to the area where the Wood Warbler has been and found and heard nothing at all. Disappointed, but determined to do the circuit again, I carried on. Two birders from Ashley's group bumped into me and kindly informed me that Ashley had heard/found the Wood Warbler – excellent! So I walked back with them and listened to the Wood Warbler. I watched it fly past but didn't have very good views initially. We watched a party of Long-tailed Tits and two lots of them were furiously chasing each other like the devil possessed – don't know what was going on there! Ashley told me he had seen a Spotted Flycatcher and a Marsh Tit not far from this spot. After Ashley and his group had left, I stayed there until I saw the bird and got photographs. I had fabulous views in the afternoon sunshine and heard it 'trilling' several times. But I found that photographing this bird was almost as frustrating as that Red-backed Shrike! I did get a few record shots, but certainly nothing to get excited about. Most of the shots were of sharp branches and fuzzy bird, you know how it goes! The Wood Warbler spent the majority of its time, feeding high up amongst the oak leaves. My best shots were when he bird was really high up on a pine branch next to blue sky. But watching this beautiful bird against bright green leaf foliage was just magical. Wood Warblers are just exceptionally classy birds and an absolute joy to watch.

Typical Wood Warbler shot!!!

 Pity this wasn't sharp!

While all this was going on, the pager bleeped up with 'Red-footed Falcon + 12 Hobbies and a male Golden Oriole at Lakenheath Fen RSPB' – hmmmm...... well, I was thinking about the Golden Oriole more than anything else. Had I got time to nip there too? Had I? I hummed and harred and decided to be sensible. I am very glad I made that decision, as I had a wonderful time shortly after this.

I tore myself away from the Wood Warbler who was still singing at 6.45pm and started to walk back through the heath along the green trail. I saw a Treecreeper, heard a Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Just after the hide there was loads of rabbits all on the short turf and a particular cute baby bunny just in front of me, who I spent ages photographing – he was so incredibly sweet and just sat there while I laid down to photograph him at eye level. The light was beautiful now and I carried on taking cute bunny pictures.

In the distance I could see the fox cubs still playing. I wondered if I would be able to get closer to them, so gave it a go. Covered my hair with my green scarf and walked across the heath, stopping every so often to ensure they didn't spot me too soon. I got really close before one of the cubs clocked me – he alerted the others, one shot down a hole and the other two rebelled and continued to play. As I got closer they all vanished into their den. I walked closer and positioned myself with the sun behind me and close enough to get some good shots with my 300ml lens. I sat and waited and I waited! Eventually (knew they would) curiosity got the better of one them and out he popped, mind you it was a set of rusty coloured ears only – I could just see his eyes as he turned his head to look a me, just enough time to take a picture, then he disappeared back down the hole again. I then had a very long wait. Trust me to have left my tea in the car, I was starving hungry and was freezing cold now at 8.30pm. I persevered and was just about to give up when a different cub popped up out of a different hole and almost stood up to take a look at me, before scurrying back into his den. I got a picture of him, but the light was rubbish now, if only he had come out when I had taken the previous cub, the light was so much better then. Light makes such a massive difference with photography. Trudged back over the heath and sat and had my tea in the car before driving home late again!

 FOX CUBS playing at East Wretham Heath.

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