Non-birders will be wondering what on earth my title is about; birders, on the other hand, will immediately recognise the name and understand the reason for my excitement. Gropper is birder shorthand for Grasshopper warbler (Locustella naevia) and this is one difficult bird to photograph, except perhaps in the springtime, when it pops up a little more often to advertise itself to potential mates. Although Groppers are present in many parts of Britain, it’s usually their grasshopper-chirping-like song (called reeling) that lets you know one’s about.
I was alerted to this bird’s presence by my birding friend Graham, who got a photo the previous day, and he’d also seen migrating birds in this general location, one of the outer fields at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, so I figured it was worth a look.
I found this particular bird and stood still watching it for so long that a grasshopper (the insect, not the bird) started climbing up the inside of my trouser leg, which, sadly, didn’t end well for the grasshopper as I freaked slightly about what it might be. And, to be completely honest, not having seen a Gropper up close before, I actually thought the bird I was watching was an immature Reed warbler. It was only when I sent Graham a photo later that he confirmed its identity. I might just have to go back and see if I can find it again.