Now to the main reason for this entry - possibly my favourite bird in the UK, the Dartford Warbler.
It is a bird that I have sought to photograph for a very long time with my inspiration to do so coming from seeing a wonderful image from the cover of an RSPB magazine a couple of years ago that had a classic, simple image of a Dartford sitting atop a gorse bush, singing his heart out to any ladies present.
Primarily breeding on heathland, often near coasts and using gorse bushes for nesting, the Dartford is insectivorous and populations can and do suffer during harsh winters when insects are hard to come by.
Dartford Warblers are named after Dartford Heath, but the population became extinct there in the early 20th century.
The winter of 1962/1963 was particularly severe and UK numbers dropped to just 10 pairs which shows how fragile this species can become when conditions turn for the worse.
The birds recover well though in good quality habitat, thanks to repeated nesting and a high survival rate for the young and so I am pleased to say that where I photographed my Dartfords, they now have 40+ pairs that survived the last 2 winters well and continue to thrive.
As I said at the start of this piece, I've tried to photograph these super birds for quite a while now but every time I went to find them conditions weren't quite right - too windy (they stay in cover), too wet, or I was simply looking in the wrong place !
Here's the best image I've processed so far from 2 full days at the site: