Wood Warblers

Field Paintings

There is always so much bird activity in the woods during early May that it is difficult to keep focus. The redstart activity seems to have declined as the birds settle down to egg laying and incubation. At this time they can be very inconspicuous. So I have turned my attention to sketching wood warblers, there are at least seven males along my usual walk through the wood.

I was lucky enough to find a female building a nest close to the path on 2nd May. She had literally just started the nest. At that point it was just a hollow in amongst bracken and low vegetation. Returning the next morning I was surprised how much she had built in a day. The outer dome was complete and by 6th the inner cup was complete. She then seemed to take a rest for a few days. The first egg was laid on the 9th – sometime before 7.30am. The following morning I was out early to find her sat on the nest before 6am. She flew off at 6.08am after laying the 2nd egg.

Attention then turned to a male singing further along the path. He was singing strongly from several perches allowing very close views just overhead at times. After an hour or so I happened to glance back up the slope and saw another wood warbler low down – was this a female? This question was soon answered as the pair performed a wild chase at breakneck speed through the trees. The male had his wings and tail fanned and singing loudly when they settled. It was all very frantic and difficult to see let alone sketch.

John Walters

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