The fates were about to turn the day upside down after glancing in amazement at a camera back! Brian Griffiths had photographed a bird he didn't recognise on Titterstone Clee the previous weekend and there nicely poised on the skyline was... a Shorelark!!
Now this shouldn't have been a complete surprise as one had been seen on the 13th March up there but crikey if it had stayed at least three weeks, why couldn't it still be there? I was granted 'leave of absence' and headed off South... I was over half way there when my pulse started racing. Dave Barnes was already up there and by complete coincidence, watching, yes you've guessed it... a Shorelark!!
He was viewing it from the road up to the radar station about 200m past the main car park. I got out of the car and I got that sinking feeling as he explained, it had been flushed by walkers and flown high west with Meadow Pipits :-( We headed round to the plateau past the main car park and and spent the best part of an hour searching in vain, before returning to the place it had originally been seen. Almost immediately, it was picked up by Paul King getting out of his car, who had spotted a photographer, clearly on it at the top the hill! Phewwwwww, moments later, come in No. 234... Shorelark was on my Shropshire list :-)
The rest of the day was spent trying to get some images, which really were hard work, disturbance aplenty, a flighty bird and harsh brilliant sunshine don't make things easy? Here's a few record shots to celebrate the day...
It would nearly always announce its presence at the top of a ridge!
Or edge of a dip!
Heat haze kicking in!
And whilst it came within 30m, I was working with just 500m of reach (a legacy of that too close Heron!)
Never mind, these will do very nicely under the circumstances!
The closest approach...
Who's to say it hasn't been with us for much longer than that March sighting? Maybe it will stay a while longer? Whatever, for the moment its yet another incredible bird in this crazy start to Shropshire - April 2017!