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.