Inspired by looking at the BTO Website this lunchtime about the tagged cuckoos returning to Norfolk I thought ' I'll go to Northward Hill and hear one ' as I haven't managed to hear one yet this year!
The weather was pretty rubbish I'll have to say with a barely achieved 8c and a North Easterly breeze it felt distinctly wintery.
In the car park plenty of Goldfinches were about with Blue tits, Great tit and Chaffinch on the feeders. 50 yards along the trail the familiar scratchy call of the Whitethroats hit me as 3 or 4 flew up from the bushes calling and darted back into the cover. Despite the weather it was beginning to feel more spring like already.
Up at the top view point I scoped the ponds, Avocet were present alongside a Greenshank dash-feeding along the margin. A pair of Redshank sat on the bank quite near to an Oystercatcher poking around in the tussocks.
Canada Geese were there as well with Grey lag off across the marsh. A Lapwing flew his bubbling aerial acrobatics over the grass. Mallard, Tufted Duck and a lone Gadwall swam around feeding with a half a dozen Shelduck, and I saw my first Swift of the year, a pair whizzed overhead as I walked down to the meadow and across to the bridge to see if I could hear any Nightingales.
At the ditches I could hear a Reed and Sedge Warbler limbering up in the undergrowth. By now I could hear Nightingales singing up the hill in the distance so I left them to it.
Halfway up I heard two males dueting in the scrub and a Cetti's Warbler singing his powerful song.
Walking back down to the bridge a male Blackcap was hopping around a bush. In the distance Heron and Little Egret could be seen making their way homeward. On the way back to the viewpoint a Green Woodpecker yaffled up onto a telegraph pole. Swallow were overhead now with 20 or so Swifts.
Now back at the car park I was beginning to despair about the cuckoo until one started to call in a distant tree over at the Marsh Viewpoint.As I was just about to get into my car after twenty minutes of listening to that iconic sound a kind gentleman pointed out a trio of Wheatear on the old lambing field.
Through the telescope the male was magnificent in his colourful summer garb escorted by his female entourage.
Northward Hill well worth a visit anytime even if you only have a couple of hours to spare.
thanks to David Saunders for this report