24 November 2022

A hat trick of Warblers

09 November 2022 - Beaulieu Bird Sanctuary

I spent just over an hour before work in the Bird Sanctuary which is pretty close to my house. Oddly, this sanctuary has quite low diversity, but there is always a chance that something unusual could turn-up as it is under birded

On arrival, the European Bee-eaters that had roosted overnight were overhead stretching their wings and catching a few lethargic insects

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

In the mix were Swallows and Swifts, including White-rumped

White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer)

In a part of the reserve, some reeds away from the main dam had been cut down and there was a lone thicket standing amongst the cut reeds. I heard not one, but two Warbler species calling from inside this thicket. So, I set myself a goal to try and photograph all 3 species that can be found in the short time I had. I found some cover to break up my shape and sat patiently on my haunches until the birds were comfortable to start moving around. In hindsight, a small chair would have really been a win.

Whilst waiting, a Fiscal Flycatcher landed in the top of said thicket

Fiscal Flycatcher (Melaenornis silens)

The first to show was African Reed Warbler, which moves around from the mid stratum to the upper and somehow always able to keep something between me and itself in typical Warbler fashion - but I was able to get a few reasonable images as it foraged and called. 

African Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus baeticatus)

The other Warbler in the same thicket was the more elusive Little Rush Warbler who prefers the lower stratum or the floor and seldom shows itself. However, it was moving and every now and then it would show and as quickly disappear.

Little Rush Warbler (Bradypterus baboecala)

After managing a couple of images, it suddenly flew out of the thicket and onto the cut reed where it foraged, called and displayed - best views and images I have ever managed for this species - I was thrilled

Little Rush Warbler (Bradypterus baboecala)

By now my legs had gone to sleep and it took some effort to stand. Fortunately, no-one was watching as I must have looked a sight hobbling and wobbling off until blood returned to my feet. Right, one Warbler left, so I headed down to the reeds at the dam where Lesser Swamp Warbler was calling. This time I could sit in cover on the bank and again with patience and some pshing one came over to investigate and the hat trick was in the back. There was a calling Willow Warbler, but I didnt have the time to try and track this tree top ghost down..

Lesser Swamp Warbler (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)

In terms of difficulty for these local wetland dwelling Warblers, Lesser Swamp is the easiest, followed by African Reed and lastly the elusive Little Rush Warbler!

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