Friday, 1 January 2010

Shropshire - New Year's Day Dash

Caution - nearly an image free zone, no time for messing around with cameras today! Had to capture this fox though - discovering it's quicker to cross the water rather than going around.....

New Years Day – the traditional opener to New Year list and for once, I decided to have a day purely in Shropshire!! A bit of a ‘laid back’ bird race – taking in the sites most likely to produce - I even enjoyed the luxury of passenger status with Yvonne volunteering to drive!

Venus Pool was the starting point and without going into too much detail, the highlight was probably the drake Goldeneye on the Trout pool – all the likely ducks and Common Snipe were bagged here too! Finches and Buntings galore in the top field, nearly struggled for Bullfinch but three females near the car park sorted that one! Jay can be a tricky one but the entrance drive to the Estate heading back to the main road did the trick. A great start with 47 species in just over the hour, no Tree Sparrow or Brambling though!!

Mire lake kept numbers going with a couple of Dunlin (nice surprise), Redshank, Pintail, Goosander overhead but what, NO Green sandpiper! Isombridge lane failed to produce a Corn Bunting too – grr !! A mixed flock of Finches/Linnets/Skylarks then got the pulse racing with distant but clear views of a white headed pale bird amongst the flighty assembly. ‘OMG – Snow Bunting’ was a first reaction and we than got bogged down trying to get conclusive views. Eventually…. decided it was just a partly leucistic Linnet (see dodgy record flight shot) a very unusual bird but 45 mins had been lost and we were now in a snow storm!

Priorslee yielded the Black-necked Grebe of course, numerous Pochard (still needed) and two pairs of Gadwall. Bagged all the likely Gulls bar Caspian with a Common Gull plus nice adult Yellow-legged Gull of note. We decided at this point to pass on the Meres, they were unlikely to add anything much to proceedings and head South!

Hopes of the Leighton Pink-footed Goose were dashed but the only Greylag Geese of the day were seen here. Redpoll too had eluded us but we found five feeding on the Alders by Cressage bridge! It was inspired brief revisit to VP where the feeder station had now tempted both Brambling and Tree Sparrow to put in an appearance but sadly still no Siskin (for us anyway) at Cound Stank.

It was downhill all the way then, we had picked the Longmynd for a finale and whilst dipping the Dipper at Longnor bridge, at least House Sparrow and Coal Tit were finally nailed near here! Even from afar, the Burway looked ‘dodgy’ and we eventually found the road was closed due to snow and ice. Raven, Short-eared Owl and Hen harrier would have to wait for the thaw then….. No Long tailed Tits either in the local gardens here or elsewhere earlier (how did we miss that one!!)

We ended up with a creditable (for Shropshire) tally of 70 (I miscounted earlier!) and I have to say it was a really enjoyable day. Not everybody’s cup of tea I know and whilst hopes of a ‘ton up’ may be possible later in the Spring, the short day made it a really easy yet productive session! It doesn't matter what you missed, it's what you got that counts - birding is meant to be fun isn't it!!

Do you know what. I might even be up for doing it all over again soon??!!