Subalpine Warbler at Felixstowe – 31st Aug

Having gone to see and photograph Willow Emerald damselflies at Maldon, Essex (see post below) I was within easy reach of a much-sought bird lifer. Why so important?

Because Subalpine Warbler had eluded me to date in southern Europe and I have figured there’s a much better chance of seeing one on passage in the UK with knowledgeable twitchers for company. An exchange of texts with Oxonbirders Andy Last and Ewan Urquhart confirmed that a female of the species was still present close by the Port of Felixstowe’s customs house. This was just under 50 miles from Maldon, so onwards I drove.

Just upon reaching Felixstowe town centre at around 1pm my text alert jingle sounded in the car. “This’ll be Andy telling me the bird has flown off,” I thought. In the event not such bad news, but it hadn’t been seen for a couple of hours. On arrival in the road that leads past the customs house to Landguard nature reserve, I found  a group of 20 or so mostly local birders patiently watching a dense wall of vegetation. “A typical warbler twitch,” I mused. Memories of dipping on Radde’s and Hume’s Yellow-browed sprang at once to mind.

This was a good friendly twitch though, and I set up my chair and waited. Eventually people began to drift away but after around 100  minutes a shout went up from the customs house gate. The bird had been relocated and proceeded to reward its audience with cracking views. A customs officer appeared to remind everyone that: “This is a secure area and we are on our highest state of alert today, so please don’t go further inside.” Not likely with the bird performing so well right in front of us. He had his bins with him and said it was a lifer for him as well. Nice man.

Mission accomplished, as a text to Andy and Ewan confirmed. So it was on to my sister’s near Colchester for a cuppa and chinwag, then home enjoying the warm glow of a successful double twitch (damselfly and bird). A nice day out.

Female Subalpine Warbler (eastern race)

Female Subalpine Warbler (eastern race)


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