Monday 5 July 2010


A call from Reg first thing Sunday morning was a surprise, as was the news that there was a River Warbler near Norwich!! Panic - wait - no details of the location have been released. Mad scramble for my phone, and sure enough, this wobbler was present somewhere near Norwich and the details would be released later...
After the longest day ever, the news finally came through that the bird was at Thorpe just west of Haddiscoe - damn, the wrong side of the river and just a few stones' throw from the patch...very close indeed. I promptly joined the traffic jam on the A47 caused by a broken down caravan and wasted the best part of an hour in my slow cooker of a car (broken air con). Eventually got to the back of a small convoy heading up Crab Apple Lane, and shortly arrived at a field which resembled a festival car park, complete with bucket wielding nippers on the door flogging tickets for this exclusive event at £2 a throw. They should have charged a tenner - I would have paid!!
I joined the throng, noting several familiar faces in the crowd. The bird had been singing earlier but had remained out of view in a small alder bush, possibly due to the brisk breeze. A calling Little Owl remained hidden in the oaks bordering the car park, whilst a Treecreeper squeaked from a copse. Out over the marshes at least one Hobby and a Marsh Harrier did fly-pasts and I checked every passing gull hoping for a Barton style Yank. Sadly nothing...
At about 7.15pm the hidden Locustella suddenly let rip with a loud, piercing sewing machine-esque rythym. An awesome song! I moved round to the car park and picked up the dark shape of the warbler sitting motionless on a low twig. The next 20 minutes were a little fraught as we struggled to keep on the bird among the obstructive birders' heads. Luckily nothing got too out of hand. After a while, it stopped singing and scurried down the twig and out of sight. It almost reached 9pm before it cranked it up again and on the exact same twig. A few people had departed and this enabled a much less impeded view. When the bird sang, it literally just gaped and moved its head around. The bird was very dark, particularly at the rear end, with dark undertail coverts. I couldn't make out any pale fringing. The bird had a narrow pale eye ring and short superC, with a neat gorget of streaks on the upper breast. The legs were noticeably pink. A smart little bird.
Big thanks to the finders of this bird and for the efforts they went to to organise this excellent twitch. Thanks too to Dick Filby and others who assisted with the organisation and to all the fellow twitchers who remained patient and well behaved, and generous in allowing initial scope views.

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