Friday, 27 May 2016

Wood Warbler at White Coppice

After having gleaned some information from Janice Sutton about the whereabouts of the Wood Warbler she had recently reported on Facebook, I set off for White Coppice near Anglezarke on the edge of the moors with a packed lunch and high hopes of claiming another lifer.

I'd been to White Coppice only a couple of times before in my geocaching days, so I had a rough idea of where I was going.  It's a particularly beautiful little hamlet with a picture book stream running past the few houses that are there. There's also what must be the most picturesque cricket pitch in the UK, being nestled in amongst the edge of the hills and surrounded by trees - it does have a bit of a slope on it though!

Following Janice's directions I turned left at the cricket pitch and headed for the small River Goit, which eventually feeds into the Anglezarke Reservoir.  I crossed a couple of old stone bridges and then headed up into the pine trees.  It wasn't long before I could hear the distinctive call of the Wood Warbler above the chatter of many other woodland birds - some people have likened this to a spinning coin and once heard it is unlikely to be forgotten.   But could I find it? No!

I spent around an hour or so before deciding I would have to go off the track and a little deeper in to the trees if was to be successful.  However, before doing that I met a lady who told me she'd heard a Cuckoo this morning and that this area was also quite well-known for them.  So I decided to follow her instruction about it's location in a small copse a little way up the hill at the end of the woodland trail.

I searched and searched for the Cuckoo but couldn't even hear it nevermind see it, so I decided to have my lunch at the highest point around on the edge of the heather-clad moorland.  As I ate I watched sone sheep gathering around one particular hawthorn tree. This young one seemed to like licking the bark.

I could hear Curlew calling and possibly Redshank and the air was full of Skylark song.  So much so, that when this bird landed in the heather nearby I thought it was a Skylark before realising it was a Meadow Pipit. Even it's flight resembled a Skylark at times. I took a few photos because it was so close to where I was sitting, and then I let it be because it was obviously feeding young and the nest must have been close by.  It's funny how the colours look quite different in a slightly different light and angle.

After lunch I went back to the trail though the pine trees and recommenced my search for the Wood Warbler.  As I walked back down the road to the trail, I came across a pair of Jays, but I only managed to get a shot of one of them.

I was determined not to leave without at least seeing it, even if I didn't get a good photograph.  With any new bird that I haven't seen before my priorities are always:
  • Hear it
  • See it
  • Get a record shot
  • Try to get a decent photograph
After dropping down off the trail path and into the woods I eventually located the bird flitting around the tops of the trees.  It was singing repeatedly and although this made it easy to hear, the vegetation made it hard to see for more than a few seconds. For a long time I thought this was going to be the best shot I'd get:

With a bit of persistence I managed to get a few more a little closer, but it was hard work. The light levels were low under the canopy and the leaves cast a green shadow on everything.

So today I managed the first three of my objectives, and therefore I was fairly happy on the whole.  I've seen better photos from the same location but as with a lot of birding, it's a matter of luck as to whether the bird comes close and gets in a good position for a photograph.  These will have to do for now.

On my way back a cricket match had started so I decided to sit down and finish off my lunch and have a drink. A great day wth another lifer ticked off. All that was missing was the cucumber sandwiches!

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