Okay, so this picture won't win any prizes, but it is arguably the rarest bird on this site, so I am not about to apologise for including it.

We first saw the bird during a walk on St. Catherine's Hill in Christchurch, and it was only after we returned home and got out the books that we realised that the bird which I described simply as having slaty grey upperparts and a chestnut breast and belly was probably a Dartford Warbler.

Photograph - March 2003

We returned again a few days later and, after walking around the hill for a couple of hours, were rewarded by a couple of sightings of this beautiful bird. This was the only recognisable photo I managed, but it does give some impression of how bright the plumage looked in the brilliant March sunshine.

Almost a year later, in January 2004, walking along a path at Lymington on a busy Sunday, we were surprised to see the bird below bouncing around busily in a gorse bush. It was of course around the back of the bush most of the time but, amongst the many pictures of empty gorse were these fleeting shots of what I believe to be a female Dartford Warbler.

Photographs below - January 2004

These pictures will enlarge slightly.

In November 2004, I was alerted to a Dartford Warbler on our local undercliff. I was lucky enough to see this bird clearly on several occasions over the next couple of months and at last managed to get a few distant 'recognition shots'. Enough to promote this bird from the Locality Gallery to the Cliff Gallery though!

Photograph (above) November 2004

Photographs (above) December 2004

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