Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Most birders wouldn't have travelled that far after work, when there had been no news of the Great Spotted Cuckoo, since John's first sighting first thing this morning – but, I didn't want to be sitting at home this evening, when an 'GSC again and showing well' message came up on RBA. I have only seen one Great Spotted Cuckoo in the UK and that was the last one John found in 2009 and although it was incredible to see, my views was distant as were my photos. Therefore, I would obviously be very keen to see another one and especially in Norfolk! So there was no question about me not going to Gramborough Hill after work! Ok, so some birds are only seen for seconds, never to be seen again (like Connor Rand's Alpine Accentor), but sometimes they are refound at the same spot later on that day and sometimes the following day. As John Furse said when I rang him as I left work, there was a possibility, that it could return to Gramborough Hill to roost?! You never know!
Whizzed home to get birding gear, changed, did a flask and made cheese on toast (eaten on route) and headed to Salthouse. I was not a happy bunny to find that my normal route through Glandford had roadworks and was completely closed, so had to detour along Garden Lane/Wall's Lane, which is a very narrow and long winding road, that comes out at Glandford Ford, then followed the road, driving past the Waterworks in Cley, past the church and then down Old Woman's Lane and east to Gramborough Hill. Parked up the car in Beach Road and took a leisurely stroll to the 'hill'.
Chiffchaff at Gramborough Hill
A Little Ringed Plover took off from the pool just west of Gramborough Hill and a Wheatear perched on a post for a few moments. At the scrub on the hill, I saw Meadow Pipits, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. As I peered into the bushes, a bird made a clumsy exit from the back of the bushes and flew off west across the marsh, towards a caravan just left of Cley church – I didn't see it until it had gone over the nearest large bramble and I was looking into the sun, it was a black silhouette of a Cuckoo sp.!!! I decided to re-position myself on top of the hill, so I had a good view of all the scrub and anything that might land in to roost! I love sitting here, the views are incredible of sea, marshes and Kelling, Salthouse and Cley.
Gramborough Hill, SalthouseA short while later, another visiting birder turned up and said he had seen my Cuckoo heading south towards Cley and confirmed that it was a Common Cuckoo – he had seen it clearly with the sun behind him! He left at short while later and I had the rest of the evening here by myself. Suddenly I noticed the branches were moving vigorously just below where I was sitting and to my surprise the Common Cuckoo had returned! It had sneaked in without me seeing it arrive! It seemed unfazed by my presence and proceeded to gobble as many Brown-Tail Moth Caterpillars as it could! It was fascinating to watch and must be the best and closest views of a Cuckoo I have ever had! It was worth travelling for an hour just to see this Cuckoo. I took so many photos (552 to be precise!), most of which had branches concealing the Cuckoo – typical!
Saw Pete S. sitting on Muckleburgh Hill – he was a tiny dot in the distance! I know it was him as I rang him to talk about the GSC and he was searching the hill in hope of finding it there. I sat on Gramborough Hill until 8.20pm, still watching the Cuckoo along with an unhappy Meadow Pipit, who constantly harrassed the Cuckoo whilst I was here. It was very cold now as I ambled back to my car. Left and parked the car up at the beginning of Beach Road, Cley to check the cattle for wagtails or Cattle Egret (seen earlier at Kelling Water Meadows), but nothing seen and it was late anyway. After a coffee fix, I made my way home. Driving along I fell something crawling on my forehead – as I brushed it off, it felt like a caterpillar! When I arrived at the garage shop in King's Lynn, I discovered two caterpillars on my coat and my right hand was itching like crazy! They were Brown-Tail Moth Caterpillars! How on earth they ended up on me, I really don't know! I didn't brush against any branches at all! Full tank of petrel ready for megas tomorrow! Sandwiches done for my evening meal tomorrow! 1st May, here we go!!!
More Cuckoo pictures to be added!