I’ve left the best till last. We saw a lot of nice birds during our long weekend at Portland Obs but this bird was the undoubted star.
It was late morning, on Saturday 28 September, and a few of us were standing in the Obs front garden, watching for a Firecrest that had been seen there, when keen-eyed Tim noticed a brown bird hopping about in a buddleja right in front of us. It looked like a Reed warbler but was too big, and our experts almost immediately realised it was a Great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). The bird disappeared for a short time (John raced inside to tell the other birders, and I went in to grab my camera), then, luckily, it reappeared and proceeded to munch on some blackberries growing alongside the garden wall. Unfortunately, it didn’t linger long, soon disappearing along the side of the buildings.
Several people had noticed the bird had a ring on one leg so this Great reed warbler must have been the same bird that had been caught and ringed in the Obs garden 10 days earlier. Amazingly, it had lingered in the surrounding scrub and bushes without anyone spotting it.
The largest of the European warblers, the Great reed warbler is only occasionally seen in Britain – it breeds in Europe and Asia and overwinters in sub-Saharan Africa – so, this bird had somehow lost its way during migration.
If you want to see much clearer photos of this cracking bird, check out Martin Cade’s photos and reports on the Portland Obs blog here (when it was first ringed) and again here (when the bird was re-found, during Saturday afternoon, in the Obs back garden).