Today was my birthday and for the first time in ages, I couldn't take the day off as I had to go to work for an important meeting at Norwich.
Perhaps this was entirely appropriate as I was hardly in the mood to celebrate my birthday this year.
Having started work at 7.30am I was able to finish at 2.30pm, and I was able to pop over to Corton woods for the last hour and a half of available light on this fine sunny day in the hope of seeing the Hume's Leaf Warbler again. When I arrived OFB, Peter from Norwich and a couple of other birders were staring into the trees on the southern side of the wood. I didn't need to ask the whereabouts of the bird because it was calling a distinctive "chee-wit" call from the tall trees at the edge of the wood.
We couldn't see it so I decided to take the path into the wood bordering the pond (passerines often congregate here especially when the sun is setting) and seeing Long- tailed Tits, I sifted through a small flock of said birds, 2 Goldcrests were also with them and flew across the path and west into the wood, when suddenly a small warbler flitted across, calling "che-wittt" the excellent Hume's Leaf Warbler. but I didn't see it again here as it soon melted into the wood.
I walked back to the crowd who were waiting to see it just outside the wood.
We then walked outside looking over to the western edge of the wood, as the sun was setting and throwing the last vestiges of sunlight onto these trees. No sign again, but returning to the pond area, along the path 30 yards just north of here and looking into 3 tall ivy clad trees the "chee-witt" call was heard twice but the bird wasn't seen again, although around 20 Long- tailed Tits and the 2 Goldcrest were present again.
I then checked a Sycamore tree just to the right of the path and there were 2 birds, both warblers flitting around. The first lower bird was a pale Chiff- Chaff so pale in fact that it looked suspiciously like an "abietinus race" bird from North/ North east Europe with subdued supercilium, dark cheeks and eye-stripe giving prominence to the white eye-ring with very dull pale flanks, duller pale olive- green above. This disappeared from view and I switched my attention to the other warbler.
This bird was smaller and constantly active, flitting and actively feeding on insects on the mid right hand side of the tree. The bird was constantly active and never completely on show, so I had to piece together bits of the bird seen amongst the sycamore leaves/foliage, mucky off white/ grey underparts were clearly and frequently seen, then the buffish wing bars, the lower very prominent and broad. Then on another occasion, the head was seen showing a darkish cap, broad buff- yellow supercilia and dark bill, then on another; the dark legs. It was of course the excellent Hume's Leaf Warbler.
Confident of the ID, I went to retrieve another birder down the track who was delighted to add this sighting to his life list when we returned.
The bird continued feeding now going to near the top of the sycamore, and after some ten minutes of observation it flew left and out of sight. It called once when it flew. I finally saw 2 Goldcrest very close, 1 sat in a bush for several minutes just feet away.