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Sunday, 28 June 2015

Grasshopper Warbler

A bird that I'd always wanted to acquire a few images of was the elusive and skulking Grasshopper Warbler.In previous years I,d failed miserably,trying to obtain decent images.I could find their whereabouts no problem at all,however they were usually tucked away in a deep thicket or hidden in large clumps of reeds.Trying to get good clear shots was frustratingly difficult, with the obligatory reed or twig being smack bang in the way.Their charismatic song echoing all around,but usually always out of view.

I knew my time would come one day when one would present itself out in the open to me!This happened one evening last week, when I was out for a few hours,watching the local Peregrine falcons.

On my way back to the car, I stumbled across a reeling bird sat tall and proud amongst some thistles.It was too late to start setting the camera up, as the light was fading fast!I vowed to return early the next morning knowing that the conditions would be more favourable!

Stumbling out of bed at 4.00 am wasn,t easy,but I knew what the rewards could be with this rather showy bird!They usually have 2 broods when breeding, so this male was obviously advertising himself again to any passing females!I was a bit concerned that he might have moved on from his little patch,but as I drew up in the car, I could hear him reeling away like mad about 100yds away!
I,d brought along my throw over camo cover which I,d planned to use to gain an advantage on the bird.From observations gained the previous night,I,d noticed that he would perch atop one of the thistle, belt out his song for a good few minutes,then fly down into the grass,reappear and  fly to another different thistle and repeat the process,therefore covering quite a good  area to hopefully connect with a female.                                                                                                                                       

Hopefully it would just be a case of get into position under the throw and wait patiently for him to come within range.Sure enough the plan worked to perfection and I made the most of it with the camera.It was sort of mesmerising being within 15/20 yards of the bird,listening to his continuous reeling song.I,ve put together a few of my attempts for you to look at and certainly enjoyed the challenge  of photographing  this sometimes elusive warbler.

As a footnote, this year seems to be an exceptional one re local grasshopper warblers.I know of about 10 sites where these birds are now known to breed.A refreshing change to the usual decline of most of the other species in the area!
                         The good light and backdrop made for a pleasing image!
Sometimes he was just happy to sit there and take in the warmth of the early morning sun.The subtle colours and shades of his plumage  are evident in this shot too!So thanks again for dropping by and stay well.PPS, I put together a brief video of the reeling bird just to give an insight into his song...sorry for the poor quality!!


  1. Brilliant Paul,perfect thistle ,perfect backdrop well worth the early start and just reward for your time effort and patience.

  2. One of the top skulkers Paul. Well done, an excellent result for your patience.

  3. Paul. Well done mate.You have been after this one for sometime.A great result,well deserved. Not long now to the Pelagic. Catch up with you soon.

  4. How do Paul. Nice meeting you this morning, heard so much about you from Chris G, so nice to meet a local lad and photographer.
    Thanks again for the location.
    Lee Aaron.