We then moved on to the Woodland Hide where I was hoping to get a few more shots of brambling before they all fly off to their breeding grounds. After about 10 minutes a beautiful female appeared and I got some nice shots of her (much better than the poor record shot I got before!), followed by at least 4 lovely males, all coming into breeding plumage (one looked particularly smart).
We also had lovely views of a nuthatch, a coal tit collecting nesting material, a siskin, a lesser redpoll, a greenfinch, a wren and some blue tits.
I also saw a common lizard enjoying the sunshine.
And of course there were some beautiful ponies! Being a horse person, I always love seeing them.
Young New Forest pony
So we drove around for another 20 minutes trying to find a certain site that we know is supposed to be good for Dartfords. Again we walked around for what felt like 50 miles but no Darties. More ponies of course, a mistle thrush, meadow pipits, skylarks and stonechats. Time to give up?
All of a sudden, on the way back to the car we thought we could hear the song we had been hoping for all day...and scanning the gorse nearby we saw him: a fantastic male Dartford warbler! Brilliant!
Male Dartford warbler
We also saw the female perched on top of the gorse behind the male.
Female Dartford warbler
Looking up, I noticed a bird of prey flying low over the heath. Wow, a beautiful male hen harrier - a lifer!
What a great day!