Monday, 20 February 2017

Venus Pool - more White-fronted Geese

It's been a couple of weeks since I've been birding in the shire, ill health, trips to Belgium and all round the country with talks all took their toll.... But a report from Geoff and Graham of two Russian White-fronted Geese got me scrambled to come out of the birding doldrums...

Showing pretty well on the island in front of the memorial hide :-)


It was 4.30pm and the sun came out, lighting them up perfectly!


They don't like helicopters!


But they do seem to like posing?


And this individual seemed to be playing to the crowd (just me!)






Taking the weight off his feet, well one of them...


And then settling down for the night...


It's been quite a year on the Goose front and with milder weather and birds clearly on the move, the next few weeks might turn up some more surprises?



Saturday, 28 January 2017

Cranmere Bog - White-fronted Geese

Cranmere Bog continues to pull in the Geese and the latest additions to the winter list was a group of five Russian White-fronted Geese. The Gyppo had departed but with the six Tundra Beans it made for an impressive sight - albeit at a fair distance!

So, record shots strictly the order of the day but what a record!

The 'Birds of a feather' rule was strictly adhered to initially...


But became a little more random as they fed.


And then seemed intent on a drink and wash...


Couldn't get on them all but here's the White-fronts dropping in


Then getting ready to return to the field!


Whilst I got the Tundras Beans flying out!


The Bewick's Swans were still in the usual field at Cound, four of them but they were well split up!


At least the four Whooper Swans stuck together!


Not a bad mornings work for Shropshire and the January tally (not to be added to as another throat virus kicked in) moved on to 101 with the White-fronts :-)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A trio for the 'ton'

A long session out with Mike Stokes and a bit of a cruise around his 'patch' - various habitats, all within a mile of so of urban or even town habitats!! First up were three Curlew, followed by a flushed Woodcock (taking me on to 99). We even sat in his lounge waiting for the neighbourhood Blackcap to put in an appearance on the garden feeders? It didn't...

So we checked out Wood Lane (nowt) and The mere roost (nowt of note) and the final destination was a Little Owl site not to be guaranteed but with darkness rapidly approaching we were met with the unmistakable profile of a Little Owl, against the run of play and bringing me 100 species for the shire in 25 days (without that much effort!)
No pics: either too distant, too unexpected when flushed or simply too dark, job done though!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Whixall Moss - More Raptors

I've spent most of January reaching for my scope rather than the long lens but today was slightly different! I left the scope and (knowing I'd be walking for miles) simply carried the long lens for portability. Three hours had passed and knowing I'd be stuck in the 90's if I didn't connect with something, I kept on marching around the English side...

Then eventually, everything fell into place - firstly a male Hen Harrier at the north east end - mobile and very distant. I lost it but a few minutes later, picked it up in my bins, about 300m away sat on a post!! Too far for any kind of image but at least my luck was turning...



And then small raptor flew low over the Moss,  this was even further away but seemed to be carrying prey... which (unseen) it landed with and stayed put for about 45 mins. It was right in the middle of an inaccessible area so I waited... and waited... and after 40 mins or so, it took off - the unmistakable rapid wingbeats of a (female) Merlin :-)



With hardly a passerine in sight, I was walking off just before dusk and suddenly what should pop up in front of me? Two Stonechats!!


So, after looking as if the day was going to be tickless, three birds obliged for the year! on 97 and three to go...

Whixall Moss - male Kestrel

A nice start to a walk on the Moss with a male Kestrel hovering nearby! You can guess what I'm about to moan.... 'shame about the light'! But these could have been... excuses excuses...

First this way...




Then that...




Then off...

And so was I; on my walk that is and after three hours, I hadn't seen much else, not a tick in sight to keep the January challenge alive! Until...

Monday, 23 January 2017

A Water Rail moment!

I checked out Chelmarsh  to see if the Common Scoter had stopped over for another day but as expected, it had flown overnight. The six Tundra Bean Geese were still at Cranmere Bog (seen flying out from the pool), plus the Egyptian Goose but no new additions there - any day now though - Pink foots or White-fronts?



The January challenge was kept on course with a couple more Shropshire year-birds. Grey Wagtail on the Severn at Bridgnorth...



and providing the image highlight of the day - a very obliging Water Rail!! At least it was for about 10 seconds! With just one small area of open water, it obligingly 'froze' whilst another one was squealing, right in the middle of the sweet spot :-)


A momentary stand to attention...


Then completely relaxed...




Just 10m away, I could certainly achieve some generous crops!





The Shropshire list moves on to 93, with just over a week to go! And I'm gonna be busy with talks for some of it...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Keep 'em coming - Egyptian Goose etc...

Another couple of gull roosts at the Mere on the 17th and 18th had resulted in just Yellow-legged Gulls although a count of 338 Wigeon was impressive for the site! A drive around a few locations on the 20th had 'inched' the January Shropshire challenge onto '90' with Red Grouse seen in flight on the Longmynd and several Red-legged Partridge in the Upton Magna - Walcott area...

I headed over Cranmere for the Egyptian Goose, not immediately on view but the six Tundra Bean Geese were still on show...







And then look what flew back in! It wasn't for long either as the Beans had a right go at it and off it went again....


This time I could see where is had disappeared to, over the road behind the farm!


The good news was the views were better!




But after a short while, it was clearly restless and flew back to the 'usual field'




I'd love to be showing you now a few images of the Chelmarsh Common Scoter! I took about a 100 images, downloaded them to the PC, deleted them off the card and then likewise off the PC (accidently) Bloody annoying and just glad Martyn got some nice images!

I need some rescue software and might be able to get them off the card? If anyone local has got this - let me know!! So the challenge now sits on 92 species....