A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Booted Warbler - Gramborough Hill, Norfolk

After a great day out on the Saturday at Birdfair, news broke during the afternoon of a Booted Warbler found at Gramborough Hill in Norfolk. Being just over 2 hours away and having exhausted the stands at Birdfair, it would have been rude not to pay a visit, so me, Alex and Chris Bridge headed off over to Norfolk. With south easterlies forecast for the night and through to Sunday, this also seemed a good place to base ourselves for a fall of easterly migrants.

Making good time and arriving at around quarter to 7 (special thanks to Alex for driving to Norfolk unexpectedly!), we sprinted the short distance over the shingle and up the hill, joining the small crowd of birders stationed watching the patch of scrubby bushes the Booted Warbler had been frequenting. Having just missed an appearance by seconds (I was now regretting that toilet stop) we now faced a tense wait to see if it would reappear, especially as Chris had a train to catch at Sheringham in around an hour. Being at Birdfair also meant we were totally unprepared, with just a single pair of binoculars and scope between the three of us! Potential nightmare situation waiting to happen if the views were brief.

Luckily, I soon spotted a bird pop up on the small Sycamore tree it had last been seen around. Having no optics, I quickly told Alex to get on the bird, especially as a Pied Flycatcher was also knocking around the same bush. With the other birders now on it, it was indeed confirmed as the Booted Warbler, and with Chris managing to get on it in the scope, that just left me with eye-only views. Waiting for a reappearance and now armed with Alex’s bins, the bird thankfully reappeared after around ten minutes, allowing me to get great views as it flitted from branch to branch feeding on flies.
Booted Warbler - Gramborough Hill, Norfolk
Chris's record shot
Quite drab and brown in appearance at first glance, perching out in the open allowed us to see the most notabe features well – the strong head pattern stuck out the most to me, with a distinctive short pale supercilium and quite dark lores. Similar to both Olivaceous warblers and Sykes’s Warbler, Booted Warblers can be separated by the shorter bill, strong supercilium and darker colouration – the extremely similar but rare Sykes’s being the general colour of a milky tea and having very weak head markings in comparison.
Booted Warbler - Gramborough Hill, Norfolk
Recorded annually but with the majority of records coming from Yorkshire, Norfolk and the Scillies, Booted Warblers are not really a bird that is recorded in the North West, and with no records in the midlands, we were lucky that we didn’t have to make a mammoth journey to connect with one, especially after last year’s only mainland record being in Lothian, Scotland.

Happy with our views, this was a great bird to catch up with, that even though might fall under the category of “Little Brown Job”, is subtly beautiful in its own way. 

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