I had met Clive at Spurn on the Friday and he had offered to take me into the peaks to a few of his Grasshopper Warbler sites so that I could get them on my list at long last. We arranged to go on Tuesday so off we headed in the afternoon with the hope of landing my biggest tart tick.
First we went to a site on Ringinglow Road where Clive said he had seen one the previous week. Despite our attempts to locate the bird there was no sign at that site. Having said that there was decent compensation as I was able to yeartick Tree Pipit. It was the highest concentration of the species I have ever seen before with around 7 birds all around. Meadow Pipits were also present meaning that I could compare calls, something I don't often get to do. Also on site were a few Curlews feeding in the neighboring fields and a couple of Linnets.
Since we had no luck there we headed onto another site which was near Longshaw Estate on the southern side. It was, essentially, a field filled with sedge, so it was easy to see why the site had a good record for the species.
As soon as we played the tape Clive picked one up and it was not long before the bird was doing flybys at close quarters checking us out. Sadly there was no time for photos, as the bird either flew from where we did not expect it, or was so close to us that there was no time to react when it did. We heard a jangling call that Clive said he had heard only once before, so in that sense we were quite lucky.
Other birds on site were at a premium but we did have a flyby Redpoll. I would have not picked it up had I not had the one flying round numpties on Sunday, so when I heard the call it was relatively fresh in my mind.
We then moved fields in our attempt to get a photo, and here we found a second bird which was reeling. We played the tape once and the bird came right to the reeds in front of us. Sadly we could not find it and it moved away the next time it flew.
Also on site were a small squad of Red Deer, presumably the ones the trust has on site. They had been hunkered down in the sedge so we had not noticed them until we had flushed them, but they observed us from the far end of the field so I grabbed a couple of shots.
It was at this point Clive realised he had lost his phone. We spent the next half an hour or so looking for it, but fortunately found it. Once we had that found we headed back to the initial bird, which was just as obliging as before, as in not very! Still, it did some nice close flybys, and we could even see the grass moving in front of us as it scurried along, but sadly no photos.
It was getting on now so we decided to call it quits there. The views were consistently brief but were plentiful and after this Grasshopper Warbler has finally been added to my life list. What a relief. Big thanks to Clive for the lift and showing me the sites.
Peak District Sites: Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Swift, Swallow, Linnet, Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Redpoll, Carrion Crow, Great Tit, Curlew, Woodpigeon, Kestrel,