Sunday, 6 April 2008

Titterstone - Ring Ouzel!!

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. Given my recent run of good birds and the fact that I was in the company of Andy Latham (if there was an Ouzel there - he'd be onto it in a flash), I had a confident feeling our luck would be in!

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.