I was nearly tempted to head North but the lure of a good Shropshire bird (plus maybe others?) was just to much to resist....
I headed South with the Longmynd first point of call - Dotterel eluded me last year so hoping for better luck this year? Not today though; after a scour of the Sheep fields and glider station. I did pick up a couple of Red Grouse however, a Swift overhead was the first of the year for me and of course there were Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Stonechat and Wheatear!
Then, off to the tiny settlement of Pentre Hodre near Bucknell in South Shropshire where a Hoopoe had been seen the previous couple of days. I bumped into Kev Joynes who had photographed it the previous day - we worked together, soon realising this was going to develop into a search! After about 45 mins of working the lanes, we unexpectedly found the bird in the roadside verge. It propmptly flew up and hopped over the hedge into the neighbouring field. It then became a stalking challenge - trying to get a decent view through every opportunistic gap in the hedge. As you can see, we did get some excellent views, all too brief sadly but some decent images were recorded. Eventually a passing birder decided to park his car right by where the bird was feeding and flushed it (sadly, not to be seen again that day!!)
At about midday, I decided to have a break from Hoopoe hunting and with Black Hill looming to the North, drove up there for a quick look around. There were plenty of birds singing - mostly Willow Warblers.....
.... a few Chiffs and then the unmistakable sight and sound of Tree Pipits! I saw at least four, fresh in and giving it their all with fantastic display flights with superb views on top of the conifers. The backdrop was pretty critical and some really atmospheric shots were captured from the darker surroundings.
A return to Pentre Hodre and the Hoopoe hunt proved uneventful. At about 3.45, I decided to move on to Bridges.
I never got there! Once the mobile signal was activated, a backlog of missed calls and texts came in - AVOCET at Venus Pool!!