24 Jun 2021

24 Jun 21 - A Summer's Melody

Around late-evening on the 23rd, I heard about a probable Icterine Warbler that had been seen singing by the Harrier hide at Middlebere. It had been found by a local Birdwatcher whilst doing his normal dog-walk and had been present for about a week. This was exciting for a number of reasons as I've only seen one in Dorset on 31 Aug & 1 Sep 1981 at Portland Bill. Consequently, it would be a Ten Mile of the house Tick, which is the list I've been most keen on since I moved to Dorset back in 1996. Additionally, I was year-listing in the Historic Isle of Purbeck and this would be a good bonus year tick. I circulated the news & headed to bed, as it was going to be an early start the following morning.

I was up for about five the following morning & I arrived at Middlebere about 05:30. As I arrived I received a message from Paul Morton that it was still present & singing its heart out: but it was a Melodious Warbler. I was slightly disappointed as I had hoped to be the first there. While, it would be a nice Isle of Purbeck Year Tick and it would be my fifth local Melodious Warbler. I carried onto the Harrier hide & quickly located in the tops of some Pine trees just beyond the hide. After watching it and taking the first photographs, I started to get the news out that the probable Icterine Warbler was a Melodious Warbler & it was showing well.
Melodious Warbler: I never managed to get a photograph showing the wing formula well, but its still possible to see the short wings and the short primary extension
Paul Morton also managed to get some nice recordings of the Melodious Warbler which are on the Birds of Poole Harbour website for 24 Jun 21. It's not often we get the chance to hear one singing in Dorset.
Melodious Warbler
There is always the worry that something like a singing male Melodious Warbler in the breeding season might have a female with it, but this looked like a lone male who had overshot a Spanish territory. The news was released to the info services and over the next few days there were a number of visiting Birders who arrived to see it, until it was last seen on 28 Jun. Virtually, all were well behaved, apart from one unknown idiot: who was told off by one of the local Birders when he caught him playing a recording. His excuse, it wasn't showing. I wish it had been me who caught him, as this behaviour during the breeding season isn't acceptable in the UK. He would have ended up being photographed and the subject of a tweet highlighting his selfishness to the Melodious Warbler. Almost certainly this wouldn't have been an isolated incident.
Melodious Warbler: It spent nearly all its time singing from the top branches of the surrounding Pines. But on one occasion, it dropped down to this Bracken patch to sing
Trevor Warrick: Local Wareham Birder Trev has a reputation of being a late starter who is never seen early in field. Seeing Trev Birding at 07:45 was almost as rare a sighting as the Melodious Warbler