Tuesday, 7 April 2020

On this day (April 7th)... 2018, 2017 and 2014

A look back to April 7th, starting with a smart male Black Redstart at Adderley in 2018! (Doesn't seem five minutes ago!)

An afternoon roaming flooded wader scrapes with Dave Chapman didn't turn up  anything of note unless you can count Common Sandpiper (Venus Pool) or LRP (Wood Lane) And with news of a (male) Black Redstart near Adderley, Whixall Floods never got a look in!

Here's a few record shots of this cracking bird at Bank House Farm, taken during a 15 min 'in' - many thanks Huw Lloyd! If only we could have had blue sky!


Treating us to an all angle display!




Just look at those wing panels!!








Certainly putting the 1st winters to shame - what a little beauty...


And in 2017, the long running saga of a certain American Night Heron was about to start.... At Venus Pool!!

Incredible, unbelievable, etc etc were just two of the adjectives used by many locals to describe the latest bird to slip through the normally effective 'Shropshire rare bird' deflector shields! A big thank-you too, for Bernard Roberts getting news out - I could so nearly have missed it by heading to the north of the county with an evening talk in Wrexham looming... A Night Heron no less, the first twitchable one in Shropshire  and we will have to wait for the Shropshire Avifauna to find out more regarding one other accepted bird from the 1970's?

It was skulking in the twiggy shrubs to the left of the pool by Lena's hide, when I arrived late afternoon. Not viewable from the hide but decent enough from the ramp leading up to the hide or through the path hedge, I chose the former to take a few shots...

Not easy to get anything worthwhile but at least it was now clearly an adult and with those long dangly bits - a male?




Occasionally, turning its head whilst half asleep!


And then the sun began to fall on where he was perched - wow just look at that red eye!!



And for a minute of two shuffled to give a view almost devoid of obstructions!


 OMG, was this for real? Well I pinched myself really hard and ouch, yes it was!


So here we go again, the 'twitch protocol' was about to be implemented again as Shropshire hosts another great bird. With Iberian Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler and Wood Sandpiper waiting in the wings, there's a lot going in the Shire right now...


For finale, a showy Redshank at Venus Pool in 2014

Here's the Redshank, pretty close in front of the hide....






Feeding energetically!




Hopefully better things to come??

Monday, 6 April 2020

On this day (April 6th)... In 2004 and 2008

We are likely to be missing these two species right now :-( A 1st Summer Med Gull at Venus Pool in 2014...

Never an easy bird at Venus Pool but with the Black-Headed Gull colony building up, this 2cy (Ist Summer) Mediterranean Gull appears to be hanging around!

It's quite obliging too (when present!) but never in the feather detail range.....

Attracting curiosity from the Black-heads!


And always standing out from the crowd....


The closest approach.




Underwing flight shots.....






Never easy to land on an 'occupied' island!


Maybe somewhere else then?




Eventually allowed to settle and doze the afternoon away!


We could do with another one to settle down as a partnership?

Plus an unseasonally snowy scene at Titterstone Clee in 2008 and guess what...

Early April is Ring Ouzel time in Shropshire. Any of the highest peaks are in with a shout but Titterstone Clee is by far the 'easiest' and usually most dependable site.

The weather forecast was dire with strong Arctic Northerly winds in prospect and we could see from a distance the snow covered heights!! Amazingly however, it was probably as calm as I can remember up the top. We set to work and by a stroke of good fortune decided to concentrate the car park area first (this was not our original aim!)









We had walked round to the scree slopes which looked pretty treacherous given the snow cover so we retraced our footsteps (easy in the snow!!) back to the car park. As we rounded the final corner, a cry went up from Andy "Thrush"! Yes, flying across in front of us was not just any ordinary thrush but a Ring Ouzel!! An adult female. It settled on the slope about 50m above us, flew a bit higher, a quick look round and then was off up onto the plateau and out of sight! There were literally just a few seconds for strictly record shots only.










What - MORE Wheatears? Well they looked good in the snow and males were predominant, guite a few migrant birds without colour rings. Note the last pic - a juicy worm under that snow cover!










Black Hill was tried for Goshawk but it was 'no show' sadly. There was a distant Red Kite on view however. Then, driving through the centre of Craven Arms an emergency stop was needed - I'd spotted yet another Red Kite overhead! (This was my fourth Shropshire Kite in the space of eight days) The locals were wondering who the crazy guy with the rocket launcher was and someone tried to put me off by tooting their horn (I was parked legally off the road for once!) but I still got the shot!








The day ended where it began, at Venus Pool. A solitary Common Sandpiper present all day plus a pair of Wheatear in the paddock off the causeway were the highlights here.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

On this day (April 5th) in 2016 and 2008!

Some photogenic birds have come my way on April 5th, lets start with a Spoonbill on Whixall Floods in 2016

A 1st summer Spoonbill was a fantastic find on the Whixall floods the previous evening - well done Anthony Griffiths!! Needless to say - only my second Spoonbill in the County and there haven't been any twitchable ones other than these in recent years - I was on my way over there.....

Luckily my timing was impeccable as it had just flown into one of the floods adjacent to the roadside - some 100m away but that's one sizeable bird!




Spooked by something, it remained jumpy....


and just after 9.00am it flew out to the east! A few folk were gathering and whilst the prospects didn't look good, it didn't depart too high and I reckoned it would be back!



30 minutes later my prediction proved correct!


Taking me by surprise but circling around....


And then a nice sequence as flew towards me!






Not easy to keep up with it as it loomed overhead!











Back in the frame and bit of a ruffle to finish......




I need a session with it much closer?!

Followed by an out of County encounter with a Great Northern Diver munching its way through the Crayfish population at Chasewater in 2008...

Regular visitors to this blog will know I don't need an excuse to break off a car journey for a bird or two! So, en-route to Chesterfield and with just 15 minutes to spare, I called in at Chasewater. The Black-necked Grebes seem to have departed but the juvenile Great Northern Diver was showing extremely well.......








What do Great Northern Divers eat for breakfast? How about a nice fresh crunchy Crayfish? Simply break off the claws, then down in one gulp.....










Gosh is that the time - better hit the road for Chesterfield......

And on my back later... Ever wondered what Waxwings feed on when the berries have all gone?

Cutthorpe near Chesterfield has been home for four Waxwings since the 15th March. They hadn't been reported for two days however - nevertheless, I decided to try my luck as the site was just a mile or two from where I was returning from an AGS plant show.

I really am on a roll right now, not only were the birds present, I managed to take a few pleasing pictures between snow flurries - the sun even made an appearance! Fantastic birds, as I haven't seen these for a few years, I make no excuse for posting a picture or two.......












What do Waxwings do when the berries run out? Well, they don't look quite as nutritious but how about catkins for starters!