4th June. After a stunning May birdwise, I hoped for a few good things in the often quiet summer months and today didn't disappoint. After feeling rough for a few days I was back to work but not before checking out a Gwent Mega before work. I got up at 4 and after a 35 minute drive found myself near the radio masts on the Blorenge mountain near Abergavenny. Even before 5am there were already twenty plus birders there and by the time I had my camera set up, just as the sun was rising I got my first glimpse. There perched atop a Holly tree was the singing male Marmora's Warbler, an amazing find for the U.K. and especially with it being in such a remote location. I could only make out a greyish Sylvia warbler at its initial range and grabbed a glimpse through someone's scope observing the red eye, pale legs and general greyness of the plumage showing it not to be a Dartford. I stood and watched it as it sang and flew its route with it having a quiet half hour while it presumably fed. During that time entertainment was provided by a melodiously singing Tree Pipit, several Whinchat and both male and female Cuckoo being heard and then a flyby sighting of the male Cuckoo with several Meadow Pipit in tow. Once the Marmora's Warbler re-emerged it was sticking to its behaviour pattern with it favouring the holly tree and then moving clockwise in an oval fashion around the car park area. All the birders there were exhilarated by seeing such a vagrant so well. After a few lousy record shots, the best of which was a lovely silhouette in the early morning sun I hedged my bets on it passing by me if I relocated a short distance away. I'd watched its behaviour intently and noticed two bushes where it sang briefly from quite close to the road. I sat as unobtrusively as I could away from the crowd of birders and waited alone. Half an hour passed before I got a sniff of the bird but what a sniff it turned out to be as the bird sang firstly around 40 yards away and worked its way to within 10 meters at its closest point, seemingly unbothered (or un-noticing) of my presence. I snapped for 3 minutes (thanks EXIF data!) as the bird gave me my own little performance before it crossed the road and sat atop a Hawthorn for around 10 minutes. During this time most of the massed birders joined me and got their own stunning views through their scopes. Not able to top that it was back to the car and then work by 8 as usual. Perfect! I felt very lucky to have got such great views and especially of such a scarce visitor to these shores. It was also really nice to have such a quality bird in your own county for once. More please!!!
16th June. I waited and waited for the next good morning to come before getting another chance at the Marmora's Warbler and today it looked perfect. No family commitments and only my desk beckoning me to arrive at a sensible hour meant I had another chance. I arrived again at dawn to only a handful of birders and soon set off in search of Gwents' star attraction. The Tree Pipits and Whinchats sang as before and the Cuckoo could be heard distantly but no sound of any scratchy warble. After half an hour I was getting "that feeling" and after an hour, with the sun shining more powerfully it was evident to most that the bird had moved on. It was a mixed feeling, relief that I had seen the bird and obtained some nice images but also a little sadness that I wouldn't be able to connect with it again. Still I had some good banter with the chaps on site and enjoyed the birds that were present. It would have been nicer to have that one other species but still I had a relaxed drive into work after not going for that one more set of pictures. (I didn't take a single one!). Only one species photographed for the month then but not a bad one at all!