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...
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....
That scourge of any kind of day list (Jay) finally got it's come uppance just before Pulverbatch as one flew along the roadside hedge there.. There was not much activity up on the Stiperstones, where I had a walk along the all ability trail with Gemma and in low cloud and mist, the highlight had to be this juvenile Red Kite...
Horrible light, given blue sky and a decent shutter speed, this would have been a good opportunity?
A check of the Darnford brook, refused to yield Grey Wagtail - another early year problem character... Plenty of time left and tally moves on to 88 for Jan...
One good thing about my January Shropshire mission is that it gets me out on days when dank dark condition might make me think otherwise! And with the Pine Bunting scuppering my regular NYD bird race, there were to be three year ticks today - stretching them out the whole month. I can't say I would ever look for a Heron but they seem to have disappeared from the VP area and this one was making a pathetic attempt to hide from me.... I can see you! And 7 Gadwall scoped from the VP car park reminded me I didn't check the fishing pool out earlier :-)
My annual January Dipper shoot, 5 minutes spent in pouring rain! They are best left in peace for the rest of the year, especially during the breeding season...
A branch or mossy stone (makes a change from a stick!) makes no difference to a dipper! Bling shining brightly... You don't see many without nowadays!
Cos they would sooner be dipping!
Or just wading in the water?
There we go, 86 species and just 12 to go before I have a big change of scene in February - lots going on and not much of it birding??!!
I was on my way to the Mere gull roost, stopped off at Colemere and with the 3 Scaup right out in the middle of the mere, decided to check out the wood? A few Redpoll and a Treecreeper were the only worthwhile birds seen and with the clock ticking away, I retraced my steps... only to find the Scaup had now paddled within camera range!!!
I literally gave them 5 minutes but still managed to get some half decent record shots in the gathering gloom!
Ladies first - first winter that is...
And the first winter male showing off his developing plumage!
The adult male always an irritating distance behind the youngster, impossible to get them both in focus!
But just about managed all three as they drifted away....
I hadn't missed much at the Mere and was soon joined by Rob Dowley and Anthony Griffiths, all of us hoping for a repeat show from the first winter Glaucous Gull?
It was not to be but we stuck it out until the bitter end! Amongst the estimated 3,000 Gulls, majority Black-headed (and not a Med in sight), Common were certainly Common, a scattering of Herring, and Lesser Black-backed plus this 4th winter Great Black backed Gull....
If there was a highlight, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, one smallish probable female and here's the bigger of the two...
Mike Stokes and I had scoped the drake Mandarin, way across the mere some 600m away three days previously- it was a tad closer this evening, hiding behind a bush! Just this single 'clear' shot!
The January/Shropshire list rolls on to 83 with Treecreeper, Great Black-backed Gull and Yellow-legged Gull from today :-)
I will try and keep up to date with pictures taken of birds in Shropshire and my trips out and about elsewhere..... I'll generally let the pics do the talking so brief notes will be the norm. This blog is all about birding so don't expect all images to be 'publication' quality! Record shots, habitats, anything that tells the story of an experience will all be posted here
Don't forget - nearly all the pictures will be 'thumbnails' - click on them to see a larger image.
This is not a specific site for what's about in Shropshire but you can guarantee if there is a decent bird about - I'll be there! See the other local links below as well.
Latest Birds: Penduline Tit, Isabelline Wheatear, Purple Heron, Siberian Stonechat, Ring-billed Gull, Isabelline Shrike, Dusky Warbler, Franklins Gull, Ferruginous Duck, Surf Scoter, Twite, Lapland Bunting, Shore Lark, Desert Wheatear, Rough-legged Buzzard, Eastern Crowned Warbler, American Golden Plover, Pallid Harrier, American Wigeon, Pomarine Skua, Green-winged Teal, Grey Phalarope, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Black Redstart, Richard's Pipit, Ortolan Bunting, Tawny Pipit, Short-toed Lark, Blyth's Pipit, Barred Warbler, Firecrest, Yellow-browed Warbler, Jack Snipe, Masked Shrike, Cattle Egret, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Hawfinch, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Wryneck, Red-necked Phalarope, Marsh Sandpiper, Balearic Shearwater, Wilson's Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Great Skua, Storm Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Black-winged Pratincole, Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Crake, Honey Buzzard, Pacific Golden Plover, Quail, Ross's Gull, Night Heron, Black-necked Grebe, Bridled Tern, Roseate Tern, Short-toed Eagle, Stone Curlew, Bittern, Rose-coloured Starling, Nightjar, Turtle Dove, Spectacled Warbler, Bearded Tit, Red-necked Grebe, Hen Harrier, Manx Shearwater, Corncrake, White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Black Guillemot, Dotterel, Ptarmigan, King Eider, Little Tern, Red-breasted Merganser, Woodcock, Red-throated Diver, Arctic Skua, Puffin, Razorbill, Rock Dove, Hooded Crow, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill, Black Grouse, Short-eared Owl, Spotted Flycatcher, Black-throated Diver, Sanderling, White-winged Black Tern, Hoopoe, Tree Sparrow, Wood Sandpiper, Temmincks Stint, Ruff, Tawny Owl, Hobby, Whinchat, Garden Warbler, Redstart, Ring-necked Duck, Black Tern, Arctic Tern, Wood Warbler, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, Reed Warbler, Common Tern, Fulmar, Guillemot, Gannet, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Snow Bunting, Pied Flycatcher, Mandarin, Common Scoter, Sandwich Tern, Swift, House Martin, Garganey, Whimbrel, Lesser Whitethroat, Ring Ouzel, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Little Ringed Plover, Osprey, Corn Bunting, Blackcap, Little Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, Purple Sandpiper, Water Pipit, Slavonian Grebe, Shag, Cirl Bunting, Willow Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Rock Pipit, Ringed Plover, White-fronted Goose, Little Bunting, Spoonbill, Egyptian Goose, Woodlark, Parrot Crossbill, Waxwing, Barn owl, Avocet, Merlin, Golden Plover, Marsh Harrier, Brent Goose, Mealy Redpoll, Little Owl, Willow Tit, Lesser Scaup, Velvet Scoter, Long eared Owl, (Siberian) Chiffchaff, Buff-bellied Pipit, Great Northern Diver, Great Grey Shrike, etc etc
This birding blog....
This site is devoted to my photographic activities whilst out birding - I never ever bird without a camera! My local patch (Venus Pool near Shrewsbury) is the focus but I'm not averse to going out and about... I'm a Canon user (7D/50D/40D) and habitually use a 500 f4 usually with 1.4 converter or 100-400 f5.6 when close or on the move. I have a 300mm f2.8 which is an awesome lens given a closer subject matter. Pictures are for sale or publication, all are copyright - please contact me for further details if you wish to use them. They form the background for a range of illustrated talks (see below) .....
If you like what you see here, why not book me to give an illustrated talk? All talks are digital presentations and suitable for a variety of organisations: bird/wildlife groups or camera/photographic clubs. The current list of available talks covering the theme of birds is reproduced here....
Life on Venus
A look at the varied forms of wildlife which may be found at Venus pool during the year. The key birds and insects (dragonflies and butterflies) cover most of the talk but ‘occasional’ visitors and some wild flowers get a mention. A Century at Venus Pool
Now revamped, this is not a History talk but a collection of my favourite images from the reserve. My VP list is up to 150 species and the ‘Century’ refers to the 100+ species now photographed as decent portraits in their own right! Also featured are some of the most unforgettable moments I’ve witnessed! Shropshire's Magnificent Peregrines
The Peregrine falcon is surely one of the most charismatic of birds. A supreme flier and aerial predator, the species is now well established in numbers within the County. This talk looks at the habitats and progress through a typical breeding season, offering an insight into the secret life of this magnificent bird. (Please note that images featured during the breeding season were all taken under schedule 1 licence) A Shropshire Birders year
I keep a County yearlist every year and aim to see at least 160 species (with as many as possible photographed!) This talk is based around the highlights of the past few years plus some of my regular photographic activities. It takes you around many of the main birdwatching areas, the best times to go and what you might find there. Shropshire is certainly not one of the best Counties for migrants and rarities but expect a few surprises. Out and About – a special year
2008 was a phenomenal year featuring opportunistic travels to all parts of the UK, record breaking numbers of local birds, rarities and a twitch or two. The excitement is condensed into a single presentation, the ups and downs, some exhilarating bird watching moments and an attempt to see 250 species in a year without really trying (much).
A brief look at the wildlife to be found at several key reserves and sites within the County of Shropshire. Birds, butterflies and dragonflies are the key players with a scattering of other interesting guests and a flower or two!
North Norfolk here I come
A premier location featuring some of the UK’s most fantastic birding sites. A seasonal look at the main reserves, the birds you are likely to see and some of the highlights of my visits to the area. Expect plenty of quality birds!!
Birding through a lens
Apart from my trusty pair of binoculars and scope, I always carry my camera with me on my birding travels throughout the UK. This talk takes a look at what’s involved in bird photography, numerous localities and of course – plenty of interesting birds!
Nature in focus
A similar talk to 'Birding through a lens' but dealing with a wide variety of wildlife found in the UK. The technical side of things, equipment and technique, where to go etc will be dealt with here. Ideal where the need is a bias towards 'photography'. A Winter weekend in Vancouver
Well, a bit longer than that actually! This talk covers the events of a trip to the Vancouver area and Vancouver island in Feb/Mar 2008. Whilst this is the wrong time of year for seeing migrants, a good chance to see resident birds and plenty of wildfowl. I was on a lecture tour and these are the moments spent birding in this fantastic west coast area of Canada!
Springtime in New England
For most of May 2012, I was on a speaking tour of New England. This talk looks at the whole trip, from getting the camera gear safely through customs, a few mishaps and of course the amazing birds and other highlights as I travelled through three states! Over 130 species were seen, including Warblers, Waders, Herons etc with many images captured. Gardens, Nature Reserves and the Coast were the main habitats and quite a few of the native plants were captured too! A truly memorable trip at the right 'birding' time of year...
Close to the edge with wild Peregrines
A follow up talk on this most charismatic bird of prey and is recommended after first enjoying 'Shropshire's Magnificent Peregrines'. Using images (taken under schedule 1 licence) the focus is on the 2010 breeding season capturing the development of chicks from day 1 to fledging. Whilst one particular family of birds is followed through the breeding season, there are some intimate moments in the development of other Peregrines. It features a look at ringing activities and how this will hopefully tell us more about their movements following fledging.
Another year birding in Shropshire
Following up on the popularity of 'A Shropshire Birder's Year' this is another look at birds and birding within the County of Shropshire. The same seasonal approach but with a different range of birds commonly found including yet more rarities and excitement! Geese and Winter wildfowl start the year off before Spring arrivals and another breeding season. More local rarities including Dotterel and Wryneck plus an engaging pair of Blue-headed Wagtails. Terns featured strongly in 2010 and seven species will be on show including the infamous Venus Pool Whiskered Tern. A spectacular finale will feature the December Waxwing invasion! Birding in Shropshire can be hard work but it can certainly produce some really good birds!
Many birds fall into the 'is it or isn't it' category and this talk looks at a good number of birds which can be easily misidentified or 'mixed up' with similar species. Using images to note the key identification criteria, in theory at least, it should be possible to correctly identify those problem birds, with some - even from a distance. Black or Bar-tailed Godwits, Spotted or Common Redshank, Whimbrel or Curlew, Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff, Arctic or Common Tern, Common/Spotted/Green/Wood Sandpipers, Common or Jack Snipe etc. A few Gulls featured may help to dispel their mystery? There will be a few more problem birds and many more identity problems to solve....
Out and about - A Brilliant Birding Year!
The second in my 'out and about' series concentrating on my birding trips and adventures during 2009, covering 1,000's of miles in the UK. The year started off with some amazing Waxwings and great Gulls before repeated trips to Devon provided an expensive Penduline Tit (find out why) amongst a whole host of local specialties like Cirl Bunting. A late May trip to Scottish Highlands turned up most of the key local birds. After a few 'Summer specials'. Autumn kicked off with a local Purple Heron plus a Cornish Baird's Sandpiper. There will be lots more fantastic birds (not just rarities!) and great locations featured in between all of these - selected from the highlights of the year..... Butterflies, Dragons and Damsels of Shropshire
Visitors to my blog or Shropshire Odonata pages cannot fail to be aware that for two or three months of the Summer, I spend a lot of time chasing insects! Concentrating on Butterflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies, this talk is a colourful presentation of the best moments watching these amazing insects within Shropshire. The emphasis is on their lifestyle, flight periods and the habitats they are found in (including gardens) plus tips on identification. The importance of fieldcraft and the best approach to watching them, with tips on photography is covered. The talk is geared for a ‘general’ audience with an interest in nature and will feature in excess of 60 species (not bad for Shropshire!) The talk ends as usual with a new audio visual finale.
Jim's BIG year
The story of 2014 which saw me travel the length and breadth of the UK to seek out rarities and breeding birds. There's too many species to list here but be assured the best of the images obtained during the year will be featured - from common residents to mazing rarities. It was a roller coaster of a year and many of the highs and lows are featured. My target was 300 species (BOU) - find out if I made it and enjoy the 1,000's of miles from the comfort of your chair!
Golden Birding Moments
A compilation of some of my best birding moments and locations and will suit any audience. Starting with a 'golden' theme, great winter birds moving on to locations including Vancouver, New England, Scotland and the Farne islands all with new images. Genera featured include Falcons. Grebes, Herons, Crossbills, Gulls and Waxwings. A section on photography and the most unpredictable and exciting form of birding - pelagic trips. Finally, Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers and a haunting musical finale bring the talk to a close.
*** New for 2016 ***
Scilly Pelagic Magic
I'm now officially a 'veteran' of pelagic trips from St Mary's on the Isle of Scilly! With 23 trips under my belt (13 of them during the August seabird passage season) I have plenty of images and stories to tell from my time on MV Sapphire! A heavy sea in a small boat is not to everyone's liking so sit back, relax and enjoy! From the ever present Gulls, Fulmars and Gannets, the interest notches up a gear with Skuas, Petrels and Shearwaters. It's not just about the birds either with Dolphins and Sunfish on offer plus some of the Blue Sharks landed for tagging studies. Find out how the birds are attracted, the magic of 'chum' (without the smell) and some of my most exhilarating birding moments ever, including an epic encounter with a Fea's Petrel.