The last but one Saturday of the year. Virtually last chance saloon for Andy L to break the existing record of 175 for County species in a calendar year (starting the day on 174). Yours truly and Yvonne C made up the intrepid team, heading to the North of the County. Target birds were Scaup (surprisingly still needed by all of us), Smew, Lesser Spot and Great Grey Shrike, not much of an ask eh?
The Mere had plenty of birds (counts of just under 200 Wigeon and 40+ Great crested Grebe for starters) but nothing of real note.
Colemere put a spring in our step with two distant Ducks instantly catching the eye. Hey, these weren't female Tufties, just look at that rounded head and plumage pattern. From a distance, easy to be fooled into thinking they were female Scaup too (I was initially). Our luck was certainly in when unbelievably, after we had blanked Lesser Spot in the wood - we found they had moved up by the sailing club!!
Cue photo opportunity and surely the best chance I've had to date in Shropshire to capture this species! Here are the dashing twosome - juvenile males with the emerging adult plumage just beginning to show.
Some closer shots of the individuals.
Next stop was Whixall Moss. To cut a long story short, we split up to maximise our chances but the only highlight of the mosses was a Short eared Owl! Somewhat dejected we had returned to the car park and were loading the car when, as Andy raised his bins looking across the canal, it was one of those 'what happened next' moments!
What happened? Andy shouted "SHRIKE", preceded by a couple of other words I shan't mention here. And where was I when Andy broke the record? I was sprinting over to his telescope to get bird no 173 on my list, that's where I was, a lifer too for Yvonne!
No chance for photography, a Peregrine shot though and that was the end of that but there was a happy ending to the story......
A return session on Sunday morning, when the Shrike turned up again - seen initially next to the access road and then nearly two hours later out on Whixall moss as seen here, very distant but this record shot was very much appreciated!!!