Saturday, 4 May 2013

Shropshire - Bird Race

The first Saturday in May seems to be the designated 'Big Day' of late for listing, racing etc. with Belvide and other Midland reserves seeing what sort of day list they could produce! By a complete chance, it also coincided with the May dash around the County for the JA / YC team!

It as a somewhat early start!

With 20 birds hardly worth mentioning from the VP car park / hide it was full steam ahead to the Longmynd ticking Dipper on the way downstream of Longnor bridge. The Longmynd was hard work and the worst possible start due to wind and RAIN! Little chance of the better raptors althought we did manage  Kestrel . We certainly managed Red Grouse with at least three calling and then displaying not far from Pole Cott.  Whinchat, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler turned up here too plus Curlew in the sheep field and Wheatear near the glider station. One of the best birds turned up just off the runway (thanks Tom who was checking for Dots nearby) a summer plumage Golden Plover! A few other useful birds were had on the drive off, Raven, Green Woodpecker and a first Blackcap. Polemere came next and despite the chance of blanking any decent wildfowl, Common Teal and Little Grebe were probably going to be useful! The 50 mark was crossed on out return to VP where a Dunlin had flown in plus LRP now emerged. Atcham turned up flyover Goosander and Red-legged Partridge. A cruise past Sheinton gave a good race tick in the form of Sparrowhawk (never easy) and the first Yellowhammer.

Goldcrest was added at Shirlett but not much else, then Chelmarsh for Reed and Sedge Warbler and reeling it's heart out - the Gropper! Heron and Cormorant were also nearby. Bridgnorth was quite productive with Long-tailed Tit, House Martin, Herring Gull, Grey Wagtail,  and seen in the same field of the bins - Peregrine mobbed by a Buzzard, underflown by a Swift!

Mistle Thrush and Corn Bunting came good East of Bridgnorth as we set our sights on the stiffest task of the day - the Wrekin! It was worth it though for Coal Tit, Marsh Tit Garden Warbler, Redpoll, Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and up the top (The signage hereabouts was a tad confusing) where  Tree Pipit  took the tally to 85.  

The run in is always the hard part, apart from the usual doomed suspects (Jay and Bullfinch yet again) it was now down to luck and perseverance. The floods at long Lane turned up the bird of the day, where a Sanderling was picked out together with 6 Ringed Plover and a couple more Dunlin.  A cruise through the lanes to Upton Magna, yielded a few Red-legs but no Grey Partridge. A pit stop for a burger and then off to the north of the County. The Mere and Colemere were virtually birdless but at least Med  Gull at Wood Lane kept the list going. The 90 mark was reached at Whixall Moss where the floods turned out a couple of Common Sandpiper and the final bird of the day (2 actually) was Cuckoo on the Moss itself, viewed from the canal towpath - brilliant views of one of these! Nothing else was added on the Moss and eventually the sun went down....

Oh well 91 for the day, any tally in excess of 90 has got to be a good un! The 'ton' will have to wait another year......