I mentioned to one of my birding mates the other day that UK yearlisting wasn't a priority for me at the moment. "It gets you out and about though" was the response! He was dead right too but the County patch still keeps me 'keen' and I can't think of a better way of getting out and about than a bird race? You go to places that would normally be on the agenda, forget other folks birds for the day and hopefully find decent birds which have a habit of 'turning up' on the day. With the January mark of 79 a target, it was an early start with Yvonne, for a change, commencing the hunt in the Bridgnorth area!
What a start too; never mind the House Sparrows, Blackbird etc, a pair of Peregrines calling overhead with one carrying prey was just the ticket! Redpoll and Siskin were in good numbers at Chelmarsh scrape, the res. was very quiet though with just a few Goosander, Tufted Duck and not much else! A wasted 20 mins at Highley speculating that the Waxwings may still be around confirmed that they weren't! Some consolation came just outside Chelmarsh where a 100+ flock of Finches included Brambling (not the easiest of birds this Winter!) We finally got Dipper on the list next when the Astbury pair put in an appearance too. Shirlett didn't spring any flight surprises but 4 Crossbills, Goldcrest, Mistle Thrushand Coal Tit kept the numbers going (46).
VP has normally been the starting point and the customary glut of ticks was anything but forthcoming. Common Snipe and Fieldfare came to the rescue from the North hide and then 2 Goldeneye, Little Grebe, Pochardand Wigeon made the duck count more respectable. The Barnacle Goose was still with the Canadas at Atcham and brought up the 60 mark but another dip followed - the Pink-footed Goose at Leighton. It was probably there but out of view down the far bank of the loop (where a few heads popping up now and then indicated more were there!) A Green Sandpiper was a consolation find!
The seemingly inevitable afternoon race disaster then kicked in, Priorslee lake had none of the classy Gulls recently seen and the Priorslee Flash Bean had gone. The Sunday jinx on Corn Bunting in the Isombridge area applied once more and for well over an hour or so we drew blank on everything we went for? Shoveler and Pintail were then seen nearby and the Upton Magna area put the sparkle back into the day with a group of 8 Red-legged Partridge and then a bird race speciality - 2 Grey Partridge! We fired off North, where Wood Lane had an obliging Oystercatcher and a face saving Shelduck was 'rescued' here for a
running total of 68!
A tally of 70+ was now the only aim and with time running out, the Mere
Gull roost was the final venue. Common Gull was a surefire banker here and the Mere once again gave up the only Grey Herons of the day. With light fading, the day then took on a magical twist as I was sorting
through the Black-headed Gulls hoping for a Med? OMG, Come in no 71..... the day was to end with a County lifer......