The last 3 weeks at Slapton have been very kind to me. In addition to the daily spectacle of the starlings (which dropped off two days ago as the roost split in two), I've had pom skua, firecrest, yellow-browed warbler, black necked grebe, cirl bunting, and bittern to look at. Everyone at the centre and in the village was warm and welcoming, and I've been able to explore a number of exciting sites. Unsurprisingly then, I was a little sad to be leaving this morning (especially after the fun of the panto the night before), and a little down as I devoured my last Slapton-cooked breakfast.
Not wanting to waste a day of on the south coast, I decided to try to tick something off my birding bucket list, something that my northerly location usually ruled out. I have had a Dartford warbler pin badge on my camera bag for 3 years, just waiting for its turn on my bin's strap (only birds I've actually seen make it onto the strap). So, after loading up the car with all our luggage, I said goodbye to the girls and headed out to Aylesbeare Common.
Arriving at the common just after ten, I parked up at the nearest lay-by and headed off down the nearest path. I wandered fairly aimlessly through the scrub until I found a likely spot (very marshy, the gorse dotted with low birch and willow); then I settled down to wait.
I wasn't waiting long, very soon a small dark bird with an almost long-tailed tit flight was working its way through the scrub. Its call was wren-like, almost like a wren with a back throat; and it was highly vocal as it observed me from between the branches. I'll be honest, I was hoping for one of those iconic "top-of-the-gorse" shots, but the bird was having none of it. Always in motion, the best I got was the shot below. I'm still elated though, I can finally put the "Dartford" badge where it belongs. However, I do now need a new target....