Tuesday, 24 January 2017

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....

Monday, 16 January 2017

Stiperstones - Red Kite

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...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

One Dipper dipping!

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??!!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Colemere - Scaup threesome!

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....


The Mere roost beckoned, only a few minutes lost!

The Mere roost - Gulls galore

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 :-)