Saturday, 4 January 2020

Shropshire - Hen Harrier etc

A good start with Green Sandpiper at Walcot was followed by flyover Skylark and then, bird of the day, a ringtail Hen Harrier at Noneley Floods



It flew through over the far side of the field on the Sleap side, pursued by a crow. Shooting into the light at near 200m distance is never going to yield feather detail but there's enough info in these pics to suggest its the most likely candidate, a Hen Harrier?


Five fingered primary tips eliminate all others apart from Northern and finely streaked body, difficult to assess at distance whether it's an adult or juvenile...




Marsh Tit at Haughmond Hill...


No sign of the Marsh Harrier at Whixall Moss, a couple of Meadow Pipits seen there and we are into the nineties on 91

Friday, 3 January 2020

Shropshire - Golden Plover etc...

Another day with the morning spent south of Shrewsbury. The Long Mynd produced a good tally of Golden Plover where Rob Dowley had located a great flock of Golden Plover (I counted 196 twice!) in bracken stubble just west of Pole Cott, where there were 20+ flighty 'difficult' Bramblings!




You know your luck is in when a Red Grouse flies over the Golden Plover, crosses the road and sits up for you , albeit at distance!


Cetti's Warbler, Heron, Bullfinch and Dipper were added at Venus Pool / Cound Stank...




Then a pictureless (bloody awkward camera error!) Priorslee roost, teamed up with John Martin, produced Kingfisher, Med Gull, Great Black-backed Gull plus a smart 4th Winter Caspian Gull! Moving on nicely to 86!

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Shropshire - Pink-footed Goose etc

Another 12 species added today from a tour of Telford pools, Whixall Floods then finishing up at The Mere roost. The only half decent images came from Middle Pool, Telford where a Pink-foot was tagging along with the Greylags...






Plus three Goosander including this male...



The floods at Whixall produced: Little Egret, Pintail and Shelduck.  The Great Whites had deserted Crosemere and it was a poor roost at the Mere. Never mind, Goldeneye, Mandarin and Common Gull kept things ticking over and the list grows to 72...

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Shropshire - Happy New Year

I'd almost forgotten how to put a post together after a bit of a break from birding and blogging! But January 1st is always a great motivator with the list slate wiped clean (not that I kept any lists in 2019!!) Therein lies the problem, no list = no motivation so I'm going to revisit the Shropshire 'January list'. Simply how many birds can I see during the month of January within the county border? And ideally beat the '101' tally from Jan 2017!

I didn't exactly  hit the ground running as I missed the dawn exodus of the VP Whooper Swan, Egyptian (x2) and White-fronted Goose! Never mind I managed to catch up with the distant  Whooper Swan - relocated to one of the fields near Cross Houses...





Virtually all of the morning was spent wandering the reserve with Dave Chapman and smarting from the early 'misses' I still managed to get my Shire list up to 50 by late morning. No real surprises but the highlight was probably at least four Water Rail from the Fen hide...




And then, opting for a quick check of the pool before leaving - the Egyptian Geese were back in town!




The afternoon was spent near Shifnal, failing miserably to see the 'Sewage Works' Yellow Browed Warbler :-( A consolation adult Yellow-legged Gull at Priorslee lake helped but I'll have to await a return of a Caspian?



I might even be tempted to get out again tomorrow!


Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Venus Pool - Red-necked Grebe

Yesssss, Red-necked Grebe, a long awaited patch tick for me, viewed from the causeway on the adjacent fishing pool. Nice work too by Paul Bennett, Dave Bate, and John Smith, three Belvide birders who found it mid morning and got the news out!! You will have to agree the finder guys and submit a rarity form to Ian Grant :-)

I got down there just after midday and in between showers after a 30 min 'no show' it reappeared again in the NE corner! The light was pretty dire and rain didn't help but I'll more than settle for these!






It was busy catching fish too!


This one proving to be quite a struggle to swallow!




But eventually 'down the hatch!


There have only been two other records in modern times at Venus Pool, in 1989 and 1991. A showy long staying bird was at Priorslee Flash in 1998 and the last record in the county was in 2012 (my first local one seen with Yvonne at The Mere)  More importantly, bird No.181 for my VP list! Come on Winter, do your best deliver a Slav next?! I think everyone needs that?

Monday, 4 November 2019

Severn flood plain - Whooper Swans

I had a cruise (not literally) around the  Severn flood plain in the Pentre / Melverley / Edgerley area which has been deluged in recent weeks by severe flooding and now accessible. I was very fortunate too, as the land, now gradually reappearing, still held enough flood water to keep the swans happy and in view! There were plenty of Mutes but I was hoping for Whooper Swans and with a count of 19 for an hour long session, I had to be pleased...

I'd have settled for one!


But at quite a few of my stopping places, the calls were all around and they were clearly 'roaming'...



The car makes the perfect mobile 'hide'! Firstly a group of three landing in front of me...




Not to be outdone, I also found additional groups of six and ten (all adults) as the day veered from misty to bright! Here's a count-down to what happened next... Five...


Four...


Yes, you know what's coming when they have that 'gonna fly jizz'... Three...


Two...


Off they go...


In perfect synchro unison :-)








Looking back, I think this was my favourite image?


Magic moments indeed!

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Priorslee lake - Caspian Gull!

It's been four years since I've seen one of these brutes in the County. With the advent of 'recycling centres', large Gulls have had to move on to new feeding opportunities and the local tips no longer offer a haven for foraging! There must be something going on locally as this 1st winter Caspian Gull has been around for a few days...

With barely 30 Gulls on the water, the centre of attention! The white head of this Gull gleaming out and just look at that bill...


Quite distant at first but at least it was active!





Those long legs pretty obvious in the next two...


White underwing showing nicely !


Despite clouding over, with patience some closer views were possible! With a couple of Lesser BBG for comparison, that is one mighty bill!




Hmmm, vegetarian fare? It was soon spat out!


Paddling away and about to depart at 4.00pm...


There was also a burly 1st Winter Yellow-legged Gull for comparison! Next to sort...