I was sitting in the car, listening to the radio and had just started my lunch. As usual I was scrolling through the latest tweets and came across one from Darrel Bryant, posted ten minutes earlier from Norton. Apparently Tony Hukin had found a Dartford Warbler. I finished a sandwich considering options, and hoping they were still there went for it.
A brisk five minute walk and I caught Tony packing his car. Brief directions were not hopeful with the bird rather elusive in a very big area. It was hot humid and rather oppressive as I stated my lone search and after about twenty minutes I decided to go back to work, but bumped into William so decided to return with him, on the grounds that two pairs of eyes would be better. Got back to the general area and started again. Two other locals turned up, as did a lad from the camp. Luckily he had been with Tony and put us in the right spot but another twenty minutes of frustration ensued and I was on the verge of getting ready to leave when the bird flew up in from of us and dropped down into a small rose bush. It spent a minute or two skulking low down and then made it's way to the top giving pretty good views. Of course we didn't have cameras with us but luckily Simon West managed to get some good ones a bit later.
Left William and the others to it and returned to work with a lot of time to make up. Mind you William's having a fun couple of days-hoping to be on the Scillies tomorrow for the Cliff Swallow!
Its still an incredibly rare bird in Hertfordshire despite range expansions in recent decades (often hit hard in bad winters though). The latest Birds of Hertfordshire list seven records of eight birds between 1897 and 1947 (all but one record on Berkhamstead Common) and two more recent records of two at Essendon in December 2005 and another at Tyttenhanger in February 2006 which may have been one of the Essendon birds.