A few nights ago I had a walk up to White Lee Moor on a tip off where to find a reeling grasshopper warbler. Although I have heard one reeling once before, it’s probably the commonest bird in the local area that’s still a “bogey” for me, and I was quite keen to actually see one.
Walking up from High Bradfield, with a nice large flock of around 30 lapwings entertaining me on the way, I got to the part of the moor, near the large transmitter mast, where the grasshopper warbler was. The air seemed full of linnets twittering away, a stonechat alarmed somewhere in the vegetation, and pheasants and red grouse could be heard from the surrounding moorland. Before long, at 8pm, the umistakable reel of a grasshopper warbler piped up, no further than about 10 feet away from where I was stood.
For a very frustrating hour I tried to pinpoint the sound, looking for the drab brown bird perched in the reeds, to no avail. Grasshopper warblers rotate their heads while singing, making it almost impossible to get a fix on exactly where their insect-like song is coming from. Eventually I saw a small, brown LBJ flit from the reeds into the base of another clump of vegetation, and soon the reeling began again from the direction this bird had travelled in. Of course it’s quite possible I caught a glimpse of one of the many linnets that were around, but I’m 90% sure it was the”gropper” I caught a glimpse of, and it’s getting chalked up as a rather unsatisfactory “tick”. Hopefully I’ll get better views of a showier singer before long, but I do feel I had a typical grasshopper warbler encounter up there on the moors!