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31st December 2019

My first Salop YELLOWBROWED WARBLER today at Shifinal STW was hard work in bad light. However, by far this knocks out all the YBW I see all over the shop every autumn back home on Scilly! This is possibly only the forth county record.

A YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER was found two days ago at Shifinal Sewage Treatment works by Paul Hopwood only ten minute drive up road from my parents house in Trench! I dipped out on an individual that was only heard at Ironbridge last month but the Shifinal bird I felt positive about. OK, I didn’t see it yesterday morning in four hours searching but I didn’t give up and today it payed off. I had no idea where the warbler was seen in the area of the sewage works but I stuck to the path that bordered most of the perimeter fence. The observer who found it did say that it was with Long-tailed Tits and on arrival I could hear a small group but not a sniff of it. It was an hour later when a very large tit flock moved through on the south side of the works. There were some 30 Long-tailed, 20 Blue and smaller numbers of Coal Tit with Goldcrests, Treecreepers and Nuthatches latching on and 2 Raven flew over. How was I goin to find the bloody thing with this lot? But I did!! First I picked up a single Chiffchaff and close by was the YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER!! Get in there!! I followed it for a few minutes before it disappeared with the tits. I thought I would hang around for them to return but I didn’t have to as the YBW was feeding high up in the trees a little further down the path. For the next ten minutes, my neck was aching from looking up at the warbler. It was hanging out with the Chiffchaff but then I lost them both. Half an hour later, the tit flock came through and so did the YBW. Great stuff!! In both days that i was at the works, I was kinda of surprised that there was only one birder looking as well and he didn’t see it. However, the YBW was seen again shortly after I left by someone else.

The YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER kept most of it’s time feeding above me. It doesn’t help with the poor light and when you’ve still got the same setting on your SLR from the day before. Might try again tomorrow as it’s meant to be a brighter day. This is the first Salop tick I’ve had since last winter when I got the Ellesmere Cattle Egret and I can’t count the Dartford Warbler from two week ago at Bury Ditches as I only heard it.

This Chiffchaff was never far from the YBW

A long time since I’ve seen a Willow Tit but I got this individual very briefly yesterday while looking for the YBW.

If only the sun was out like yesterday when I took this Goldcrest.

This Fox had no idea of my presence as you can see. Despite so many dog walkers, I observed two Fox on and off in the area yesterday.

Before I saw the YBW, I had the adult Yellow-legged Gull at Middle Pool but there was no sign of yesterdays Pink-footed Goose.

Then after I had seen the YBW, the Yellow-legged Gull was back at Trench Pool just before dark.

And yesterday, it was at Hortonwood. It looks like this adult is wintering in the area as it has been around at these three sights for nearly a month now.

Where there was also this adult Scandinavian Herring Gull.

And then later on that day, it was at the Trench Pool at the pre-roost.

The 24th was the last time that the advanced 2nd winter CaspianxYellow-legged Gull hybrid was seen and again for the second time, it caught me out thinking it was a Caspian Gull! All photos were taken by Tibor Herdics who I met for the first time at Prisorlee lake.

We also got 2 Yellow-legged Gull, including this 2nd winter (top) and 1st winter. Also the 1st winter Caspian Gull was still present

Also, this 4th winter Yellow-legged Gull was at Prisorlee Lake, 21st.

This Buzzard was enjoying the sun over a week ago at Kynersley where there were also 2 Raven. Both pics by Jo.

I also took advantage of the sun at the time and took photos of other gulls including Herring and Lesser black-backed Gulls.

This Great Crested Grebe flew close by while taking the pics of the gulls



15-19th November 2019

Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic of the Dartford Warbler on the 15th but I did get one of this Rough-looking Buzzard at Bridges. Man, it had me goin when I first laid eyes on it!

On the 15th we headed up to Bury Ditches where some thirty year ago I twitched to see my first Great Grey Shrike. No shrike today but at the top on the fort, there was a male Stonechat searching for food in the icy cold strong wind on a snow covered ground. 8 Crossbill flew overheard and as we came down from the fort, 2 Marsh Tit were moving through. It was while walking along the lower path, ten minutes south from the car park, that I heard a harsh call. It was almost on the track to our right but hidden in cover where we couldn’t see it. I said to Jo that’s it’s a warbler, a Sylvia warbler. I just wasn’t thinking straight until it began to sing in sub-song, still out of sight ‘It’s a DARTFORD WARBLER!! I really wasn’t expecting that!! In all the time we could hear it, less than a minute, it never came out. In the next hour of pishing, pushing, pissing and punching trees in frustration, it didn’t make a sound again and it had just disappeared. The area was difficult to bird, so it was probably still not far away but keeping low down. This could of been a Salop tick for me if I saw the bloody thing! I’m guessing that the warbler was pushed down from the top of Bury Ditches, where the habitat is spot on, from the harsh conditions up there at the time. A mega bird for Shropshire, although singles were at Pole Cottage, Long Mynd only this year and less than ten years ago, Snailbeach, Stiperstones. A five minute drive down the road and we got the Great White Egret showing very well close to the track at Walcot Pool.

The Dartford Warbler was heard just to the right of the track but stayed in cover out of sight!

This Great White Egret at Walcot Park has been reliable on every visit that we have made up to the 19th. It’s got use to folk walking and driving close by and as a result it’s showed off at close range.

The following morning we were up at Bury Ditches where the wind had dropped off and the snow had almost melted but there no a sign of the Dartford Warbler. Crossbill were mobile and a group of 8 Bullfinch together was a good count. The Great White Egret was still down the road and at Pole Cottage the 50+Brambling were still present. Also a small flock of Long-tailed Tit were up there with 2 Coal, 4 Great and 9 Blue Tit and now 2 Nuthatch. Up to 8 Stonechat were nearby in the heather.

The 50+Brambling were still at Pole Cottage…

But less numbers of Chaffich with maybe 100

This Grey Squirrel also at Pole Cottage, made me think how it got up here? Through the heather or maybe followed the road?

The 17th, driving along the A49 south out of Church Stretton, there were some 60 large gulls on floods next to the road. I pulled over and immediately got onto a 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull. At the time I did think it was an adult looking through my bins and it was along ways off but when I got home and went through the pics, I could see that it was a 3rd winter. Back at Pole Cottage the Brambling were still there but from yesterday, only the Long-tailed Tit had moved on. 2 Crossbill, 2 Siskin and 8 Lesser Redpoll flew overhead and the were 80+Golden Plover just south of Pole Cottage. Also just before dark, we were lucky to have a Short-eared Owl fly in front of the car as it continued to hunt over the heather towards Pole Cottage. The last Short-eared Owl I saw in Salop was at Baggy Moor, where they were regular, some 25 yeat ago!

This 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull, just at Church Sretton and a long ways off, might be a first for south Salop?

The 50+Brambling still feeding on Beech at Pole Cottahe

Over 80 Golden Plover were on the Long Mynd

Yesterday, we went to visit Scott and Kate Steggles, who used to live on Scilly, at Newcastle near Clun. There garden was alive with birds including these Tree Sparrow all taken by Jo.

Great White Egret at Walcot Pool

14th December 2019

Made a visit to Walcot Park, late this afternoon, hoping that maybe an egret sp might come into roost on one of the small islands. As soon as we arrived, Jo found this Great White Egret!

This morning we had a drive up to the Long Mynd from Church Stretton where were staying at the Moment. At Pole Cottage, I wasn’t expecting to see over 50 Brambling with 100+Chaffinch feeding just under the few Beech Trees that are there. I also wasn’t expecting to see a Nuthatch up there as well but there it was moving from fence post to fence post. We continued south over the top of the Mynd and drove towards the Bucknell area and did a circle towards Clun. We did a small detour on the way to Stokesay Castle where there was one of the Little Egret still present. Raptors were all over the shop with Red Kite in the skies where ever you looked. We also saw Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard and a Peregrine put on a good show perched in a quarry.

8 of the 50+Brambling feeding under Beech at Pole Cottage, Long Mynd

We observed this male Peregrine for a good twenty minutes near Bucknell. The falcon wasn’t all that close and perched on a branch coming out from the cliff face.

I remember seeing my first Red Kite in Salop near Oswestry in ’89. Then it was a county rarity with maybe one or two records a year. Today we must of seen well over 30 just driving around the area.

It was now getting late and after a look around the center of Clun, I thought that it might be a good idea to check out Walcot Pool which is a ten minute drive away. As there has been a Great White Egret in the area, but site suppressed for access reasons maybe, I was thinking that it’s probably roosting at the pool and we might be lucking seeing it come in or maybe another egret sp. While I was scanning through the 30 Mute Swan on the water for a wild swan, I have seen Bewick’s Swan and Common Scoter on here in the very few visits I’ve made, Jo says ‘Is that an egret down there?’ She was pointing to the right from where the swans were and on the waters edge, was a bloody Great white Egret! Ideal! We observed it for ten minutes before moving on. There were also 3 Little Grebe and 5 Grey Heron nearby.

We ended the day where we started, on top of the Long Mynd and managed to see 2 Red Grouse fly low across the road in the headlights of the car and over 200 Golden Plover came into roost just south of Pole Cottage.

Maybe it was a good idea getting to Walcot Park to see if a Great White Egret might come into roost but to damn dark for photography. This is only my fourth GWE for Salop with the last only last winter at Wall Farm.

We must of seen 15+Bullfinch on the side of the roads while driving today and this was the only individual that showed well enough to gert a record shot as it was almost dark

Blackbird and Pied Wagtail taken by Jo

Yesterday, a quick look at Prisorlee Lake produced the 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull and at Trench Pool, the same adult Yellow-legged Gull that was at the pre-roost at the same site two nights ago. Note the beady eye.

Also had a pair of Stonechat in fields just south of Shifnal

Black Redstart at Titterstone Clee

9th December 2019

We couldn’t believe our luck when this Black Restart flew across in front of us at Titterstone Clee!

I’ve only made one or two visits to Titterstone Clee when I lived in Salop and non at all since I left nearly 23 years ago to live on Scilly. I’ve seen a photo of a mega bird, anywhere in land, that was taken in 70’s maybe early 80’s. A Guillemot in among a cluster of rocks! It’s an under watched area but in the early 90’s, a visiting birder in March scored with an amazing 16 Ring Ouzel, 5 Black Redstart and a Rough-legged Buzzard!! Since living on Scilly, it’s being visited more often but not enough and birders have been rewarded in finding Shorelark, Wryneck, Woodchat and Great Grey Shrike, Snow Bunting and only a few years ago, a female Desert Wheatear. Over a month ago there were 2 Black Redstart, 2 Snow and a single Laland Bunting .

We first stopped off at Stokesay Castle off the A49 to check the small pool out and a showy Little Egret, not Snowy, was on the bank and proved to be only my third for Salop. I saw my first in the influx of ’94 when there were 25 in the Midlands. Matthew Webb and I found the second Salop record at the time at Chelmarsh. Birders twitching it the following day had two Little Egret! We reached Titterstone Clee just before two and had our dinner in the car, sheltering from the cold blustery wind. We wrapped up and made our ways out not expecting to see anything of interest. We took a few steps from the car and a Black Redstart flew low across our path and disappeared over the bank. We chased after it and immediately found it on a scree slope before flying onto the old quarry disused buildings nearby. Here it proved very mobile and after a few minutes of getting only glimpses of it, it had gone! For the next hour, we split up, searching the whole area but there was no sign of it. The only other birds of note were a single Red Kite and 2 Raven.

Stokesay Castle

This Little Egret at Stokesay Castle was only my third county record

Looking across the fields from the south with Titterstone Clee on the right

If you want to see Black Redstart in Salop, then these disused quarry buildings is the place to be.

This is only my third Black Redstart for Salop. A single spent a few days at Sleap airfield in ’95 and more recently, Ellesmere Church, both in North Shropshire. Top record shot taken by Jo

On our ways home, we stopped off at Stokesay Castle again and were rewarded with 2 Little Egret flying off from the pool! Just before 15.00, we were approaching Baston Hill on the A49, when to my right, I spotted a Barn Owl flying around. We pulled over and observed it for a good ten minutes being mobbed by Magpies and Carrion Crows. Jo was thrilled to see the owl but it’s not a good sign when you see a Barn Owl hunting for food in daylight. We arrived at Prisorlee Lake when it was almost dark and may have had the probable 2nd winter Yellow-leggedxCaspian Gull.

A re-visit at Stokesay Castle produced 2 Little Egret

Not just a good sign observing a Barn Owl during the day but also spending a lot of time along the railway line and the road. being harassed by Magpies and Carrion Crow.

Way to dark at the small roost to make out if this is the probable 2nd winter Yellow-leggedxCaspian Gull at Prisorlee Lake

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3 Caspian Gull at Prisorlee Lake

8th December 2019

Salop is having a great run of Caspian Gulls right now with maybe up to four birds all at Prisorlee Lake with a single at nearby Trench Pool. Also, there’s been a probable hybrid with Yellow-legged Gull and Jo and I have managed to connect with all of them including this 3rd winter that we had today!!

When we arrived in Salop four days ago, although there had been up to four Caspian Gull visiting Prisorlee lake in the last month, we was only excepting to see the long staying 1st winter that is almost seen on a daily basis at the lake and we have observed it everyday since we arrived in the county. Also, on the first day we were here, we got the probable 2nd winter Yellow-leggedxCaspian Gull hybrid and turned up either the Prisorlee Lake or another 1st winter Caspian Gull in the pre-roost at Trench Pool with an adult Yellow-legged Gull. It was so damn dark when we picked up the Caspian Gull on the pool in the roost to make out if it was a different individual. So, already in a our first few hours, we had seen one, maybe 2 Caspian Gull and the hybrid! Great start but things just got better.

Three days ago at Prisorlee Lake, we got the 1st winter Caspian Gull, a 2nd winter Yellow-legged and an adult Lesser black-backed GullxHerring Gull hybrid. The following day we arrived at the lake, mid-morning, there were some 200 Lesser black-backed, 6 Great black-backed, a different 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull and the 1st winter Caspian Gull. Where are all these gulls coming from? After an hour, as no one had checked out if the gulls were loafing around in the fields next to the Telford Crematorium this winter, we thought it would be worth a look. There, in the horse fields were over 1000 large gulls with nearly all them being Lesser black-backed Gull. They were pretty distant and viewing was difficult through a thick hedge, peeking through the smallest gap we could find. We didn’t have a scope and I only bins and we would of had two pairs but Jo misunderstood me when I said ‘Don’t forget your bins?’ I was trying to work out what that clatter sound was in the back of the car while I was driving. What I could make out through the hedge were a single 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull, only 30 Herring Gull but 11 Great black-backed Gull. The latter species was the highest count so far this year in Salop. this is nothin to two year ago when the tip was operational and I had an impressive 60 GBBG in the same fields. Some 100 more gulls came in but I flushed everything by trying to break the hedge down in any way I could so I could see more of the gulls. They were heading off towards Prisorlee Lake and so did we. On arrival, it was great to catch up with Lathem and Janice, who were already there, and with in ten minutes I had relocated what I thought was John Reeves 3rd winter Caspian Gull. Dan from Solihull had joined us and I had to shout Lathem back as he was leaving, as I had refound the 1st winter Caspian Gull sat on one of the buoys. It wasn’t long until the two birds were together and although all the other gulls were at reasonable, if not close range, these two gulls were 100 mile away on the far side of the lake! Why? I got a call from Mom telling us that dinner was ready and she needed the car and her bins.

After we had left, Tom Lowe arrived and re identified the third winter Caspian Gull as a 2nd winter. Thanks again mate.

This 1st winter Caspian Gull that’s hanging out at Prisorlee Lake at the moment

Three days ago this hybrid adult Lesser black-backedxHerring Gull was also present on the lake

Prisorlee Lake scored again with the 1st winter Caspian Gull being joined by a 2nd winter Caspian Gull two days ago. The first time that I’ve observed two side by side in the county and the 18th November was the last time the 2nd winter was seen at the lake.

Today we stopped off at Prisorlee Lake on our ways to Venus Pool to find bloody boats sailing on the lake. However there were still some 20 Lesser black-backed Gull on the water and a 3rd winter Caspian Gull!! What is goin on? The third, possibly fourth Caspian Gull, that we have observed in the four days of being in Salop. The 3rd winter was only there briefly and flew out north. After seeing nothing at Venus Pool, we returned to Prisorlee Lake to find a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull roosting with 30 LBBG and the odd Herring Gull. Then a look at Trench found an adult Yellow-legged Gull with only 2 LBBG and an adult Common Gull to end another good day of gulling in Telford.

This 3rd winter Caspian Gull at Prisorlee lake was our third, possibly fourth, we have observed in four days of arriving in Salop!! This is the third winter that John Reeves had only two days ago at the same site.

1st winter Yellow-legged Gull roosting at Prisorlee Lake

Followed by this different adult Yellow-legged Gull, to the individual we had three days ago, in the pre-roost at Trench Pool with an adult Common Gull.

At Trench Pool Jo took this photo of the Greylag Geese.

As well as this Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit and Chaffinch at Venus Pool. The only bird of note here was a Green Sandpiper that I only heard although a Bewick’s Swan was seen earlier in the morning by other observers.

Caspian Gulls at Trench Pool and Prisorlee Lake

4th December 2019

Been in Salop for a few hours after traveling from Scilly, via Berkshire, and the first bird I see of note, is the long staying 1st wintert Caspian Gull at Prisorlee Lake. If that wasn’t enough, shortly afterwards, I went and found it or another 1st winter Caspian Gull at Trench Pool just behind my parents house.

Mid-afternoon and I arrived in Salop. It wasn’t long before I made the short drive up to Prisorlee Lake to check out if the Caspian Gull was still present. It’s been at this site for nearly five weeks, including yesterday, so there is no chance it wasn’t goin to be there today. Was there? Because of the sun shining from the west, it was hard work scanning through the gulls on the lake as the sun was in your eyes. It was a good 30 minutes later, after moving around with the sun behind me, when I finally relocated the 1st winter Caspian Gull sitting on a buoy on the far side. However. before all this happened, I had joined up with a birder at the south end, who was also looking for the Caspian Gull. A quick search with my bins and I picked up what I thought was a 3rd winter Caspian Gull on the water. I discovered that the guy I was with, I’ve forgot his name already, had been keeping a watch on it before I had arrived. There had been up to 3 Caspian Gull at Prisorlee in the last few weeks and I thought that maybe it was one of them. I put a pic out on the Shropshire Socks WhatsApp Group only for the main man, Tom Lowe, to tell me that it’s an advanced 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull and it’s been around for weeks! Man, this looked good for a Caspian Gull. Also at Prisorlee Lake, just before I left to catch the Trench Pool roost, if there is one there, were 2 adult Great black-backed Gull and John Reeves, who was scanning the lake from his car, told me that he had a 1st winter GBBG and also the Caspian Gull.

Thought I had a Caspian Gull at Prisorlee Lake. It was later on I asked Tom if it could be a hybrid, CaspianxYellow-legged Gull? ‘Yes’ was his reply.

This is the real thing!! The 1st winter Caspian Gull that’s been at Prisorlee for five weeks now and here, kept it’s distance at the far side of the lake.

Altogether there were 3 Great black-backed Gull that roosted at Prisorlee Lake

This Jay showed off nearby

And there were a male Bullfinch and above, Reed Bunting on the west side of Prisorlee Lake.

It was almost dark when I reached Trench Pool and I could just make out a few large gulls on the water with my naked eye as I drove past. I scanned with my bins and immediately got onto a 1st winter Caspian Gull!! I fired off some record shots in the dark and then continued scanning and in with the 4 Herring and 6 Lesser-black backed Gull, was an adult Yellow-legged Gull. All the gulls flew out NW just before I left. There were also 5 Goosander on the pool and I heard a Kingfisher.

It was way too dark to work out if this was the same 1st winter Caspian Gull from Prisorlee Lake or not. Never the less, it was a kinda of surprise to see it with only 11 other large gulls on the water and is the forth sighting for Trench Pool.

I say forth sighting. In 2015 I had this 1st winter Caspian Gull at Trench Pool

Two years later, 2017, I found this 3rd winter Caspian Gull. At first, nearby Hortonwood, and later on it roosted at Trench Pool for a few nights before I left to go and travel. I believe that this individual may be the same 1st winter above from two years ago, returning. The third winter was my last sighting of a Caspian Gull in Salop until today.

An hour before I had the 2015 1st winter Caspian Gull at Trench Pool, the first sighting for the site, was this 2nd winter that came in to rest for ten minutes.

Just before leaving Berkshire, Jo took this image of this Kingfisher at Freeman’s Marsh where we also had of note, 4 Stonechat and flyover Little Egret and Raven….

this Chiffchaff….

and Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, 2 Red Kite and this Kestrel

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