I had never been to explore the new Thurrock Thameside Nature Park and so when a couple of Dartford Warblers were reported there it seemed like an ideal opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. It is a massive area, but luckily I had received some excellent directions to precisely where the warblers had been seen from chum and fellow Herts birder Laurence Drummond so wasted no time in getting into position.
Some local birders were just leaving the site and said that they had heard just a single call but no sightings and so our vigil started. We did eventually hear a Dartford call with a brief glimpse , but it then flew further away towards the sea wall where a couple of Stonechats were showing well, perched high up on dead stems. At that point one of the Stonechats flew towards us and perched on the fence not too far away.
Suddenly we were surrounded by 4-5 Stonechats , 3-4 females and one male which were perching up, some fairly close at times, allowing a few shots to be taken.
But what soon became apparent was that one of the two Dartford Warblers were following the Stonechats, often feeding low in the bush where they were perched. This made the job of tracking it much easier as they have the habit of flying out low from the back of the bush to fly to another bush often some distance away without being seen. Once this was realised it was just a matter of patience to get a couple of shots. This was the best shot from a composure point of view, but a little too distance for a reasonable quality image.
My biggest regret is that this one wasn't better focused, and therefore sharper, as shots like this don't come along that often.
However, I did eventually manage to get a good shot, albeit a little buried in the vegetation. A think a return visit is on the cards.