Saturday, 7 January 2012

Longmynd etc - Grouse shoot

New Year, new yearlist and this is a great motivator - I planned to catch up with a few new birds travelling South today. Dipper was to remain absent though as the Longnor birds didn’t show – the brook is still running quite high though.
I accessed the Longmynd via High park and once over the cattle grid I could see a flock of Golden Plover in flight over the ridge. Ten of them flew over the car twice but they didn’t settle.

The Darnford Brook walk near Bridges was another opportunity to dip Dipper but plenty of woodland bird activity here. Highlight was a flock of 20+ Brambling which I vainly tried to photograph high up in the treetops. I ended up with a collection of ‘what bird is this’ shots, some unusual angles and let’s face it, the arse end of a bird isn’t there most attractive feature! A Tit flock with nothing exciting, Treecreeper and Nuthatch plus Sparrowhawk over. Here's the most Brambling like Brambling image!

The Longmynd produced (probably) the photo opportunity of the month never mind the day! Cruising over the top, not far from Pole Cott, a pair of Red Grouse in the roadside Heather! They stuck too, the only problem being the need for a shorter lens! Most of these are frame fillers and a moment which has taken years to happen!

The normal view to start

Mrs Grouse then strode into full view....

Followed by her Lord and Master who flew in, strutting his stuff on the roadside.....

Before retreating to cover, yet still managing to look good!

I reckon he looked just as good in the bracken!

Black Hill was my next destination to see if the Great Grey Shrike was still about, it hadn’t been reported for quite a while though? A roadside stop ‘West of Craven Arms’ for a ‘large raptor’ in a tree, some 100m+ distant, provided a double year tick. As I wound down the window however, all I could hear was a Peregrine calling like crazy!

BUT I hadn’t seen this bird, the larger raptor was a Red Kite and it was sat there looking on with envy at the Peregrine which (record shots reveal) was clutching a kill!

What happened next took me completely by surprise, The Red Kite took off and launched into two or three ‘close passes’ as if it was trying to get the Peregrine to drop the kill. The Peregrine eventually shot off at such a rate of knots that it may well have dropped the kill? Whilst following the Peregrine, the Red Kite seemed to dematerialise and I never saw it again.

An interesting bit of activity nonetheless and the very dodgy record shots against white sky revealed that the red Kite was a tagged bird. Left wing white X on black with white bar, right wing Black X on white, black bar. I’ve only seen numbered birds before and wondered if this was a ‘special kite’? We shall see when I hear back from Leo?

Please excuse these awful horribly underexposed ‘images of nature’

I eventually got to Black hill after 3 pm and spent the next 90 minutes yomping up, down and across the top getting fit but not a lot else! Apart from a noisy flock of 25+ crossbills, the only other bird I saw was a tantalising glimpse of ‘something’ flying low away from me in the clearfell. It had to be the Shrike but it was so distant and low down, impossible to ‘claim’.

I had unfinished business......

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