This dilemma comes from a visit to see my sister this week and being squeezed for time.

She happens to live in the middle of the New Forest, 94,000 acres of heath and woodland, protected as a National Park and probably the UK’s best area in which to find Dartford Warbler. This little Sylvia warbler underwent a dramatic decline in the UK recently after a couple of especially cold winters. They were scarce before the decline, range restricted, habitat choosy and my sister lives smack bang in the middle of a DARWAR hotspot.

We were nearby after taking my son to visit a potential university and had promised to pop in. The plan had been to take a tour of the university and to make a stop in superb Dartford Warbler habitat on the way to my sister’s place, but the tour overran and we were late.

So what does one do? Should we stop to see the bird but call ahead and make up a reason (lie, that is) for being even later, or press on and be only a bit late, but end the day Dartford Warblerless? Well, we did the decent thing and drove past sweeping banks of gorse and wide open swathes of heather complimented with fern beds, all ideal habitat for Sylvia undata.

But I had underestimated my sister. “Don’t you usually need to see some bird or other when you come here?”, she asked. When I replied that I did, but that I hadn’t, she sent me straight back out to look for one with the comment, “You’ll only be fidgeting and fretting all evening if you haven’t seen it”.

So God may love a sinner, but on this occasion the morally righteous (actually we did consider phoning ahead and lying, but were too scared we’d get caught out. So let’s say the morally spineless) were rewarded and my sister earns lots of brownie points which can be redeemed at any time by inviting me back again to get a longer look. Feeling (only slightly) guilty that I had dashed out so quickly, I took the first brief sighting as my tick and got back to the families.

Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.