Hunting the Gropper

An evening walk in the Kennet Valley turned up trumps with first for year Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo. I started off at Knighton and within a minute of getting out of the car had heard Blackcap, Cetti’s Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. A couple of Song Thrush were singing loudly and a Wren was chattering away. As I crossed the river bridge I disturbed Heron, Mandarin and Mallard. Heading east along the track towards Littlecote I added Jay and Sparrowhawk, a Sedge Warbler was singing in the same area as on Sunday morning. I then heard the distinctive song of a Gropper, it always amazes me how far this carries as it was a good one hundred yards away across the river. This one was a day earlier than my first of 2018. From here I moved west along the valley to Axford. I had just got out of the car when a Cuckoo started calling and it was fairly close by. It then went silent before starting to call again a little further away. I managed to find it sat in some riverside trees giving a good but distant view. Also seen were a few Roe Deer and a single Hare. Then it was onto Marlborough for a celebratory portion of chips which were eaten on a back road drive home where I was hoping for my first Barn Owl of the year. Yet again, despite passing a large amount of fence posts I failed to find one.

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