Monday 27 February 2012


A day off rarely combines with a good forecast and a lack of other commitments, so today was an opportunity to indulge in some rare bird photography. I had seen most of the south coast's collection of long-staying rarities earlier in the winter, but not photographed any of them well, and the Paddyfield Warbler not at all. So, in my dreams, I'm thinking: Paddyfield Warbler at 0800, Spanish Sparrow at 1100, Dark-eyed Junco at 1300, bacon sandwich at 1400 and back home in time for the Carling Cup Final at 1600.

Initially very elusive, the Paddyfield Warbler seemed to be getting seen more regularly from the north wall of Pagham Harbour in recent days, and soon after my arrival (slightly behind schedule at 0815) it was indeed refound there by one of the surprisingly large number of birders looking, given how long the bird has been around. It was very active. mobile and acrobatic, and showed well but a little distantly for my 400mm lens. Fortunately the light was sufficiently good to allow some robust cropping of the shots below.

Tail-cocked - characteristic of the species

Strikingly pale underparts and distinctive head pattern

A fortunate shot as the Warbler flew between reeds - more often than not it was obscured

Coming into land just after the previous shot was taken

The camera seemed to cope better with the bird in flight -greater surface area for the auto-focus to lock onto perhaps?

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