Saturday, 13 April 2013

Shropshire - 23 - 24th Feb

Whilst in Shropshire for the weekend and prior to my trip across the border for Red Kites, I made an early morning jaunt up on to the Long Mynd in search of Red Grouse. The roads up were pretty icy and its always reassuring when the road signs read something along the lines of don't use in winter. But my new car powered its way up and around the single track bends on quite a steep accent no problem, and I reached the top in no time.

The temperature at the top was a good 4 or 5 degrees colder than in the bottom of the valley and a keen wind blew across the moorland, window down I drove at a crawling pace, ears pricked to pick up the call I was hoping for. Within about 50 yards of the gliding club entrance I soon heard the distinctive 'chut!chut!chut!chut!chut!chuttt....' call. A quick scan an I could see a Cock Red Grouse stood upright against some very similar coloured heather. A stealthy approach on foot didn't allow me any closer as the bird rocketed off from the heather with its fast-whirring wingbeats. 

Giving up on the foot approach I stuck to the car, seeing and hearing 13 or  14 cocks calling from fairly near the roadside. One did come close enough to the car for a shot through the window, but I left via the Church Stretton end feeling pretty unfulfilled  Plenty of Meadow Pipits and Skylark also on the top with the occasional Pheasant popping up out of the heather.
Red Grouse
After visiting Gigrin on the Saturday, Sunday morning we headed up towards Shrewsbury, to Venus Pool, the weather was bitterly cold and overcast so we never spent to long in the hides, the highlight being a pair of Great-crested Grebe displaying and sharing weed not to far from the hide. A pair of Shoveler slept on one of the islands along with c.40 Lapwing and c.60 Snipe, several pairs of Gadwall and Pochard on the water.

The woodland hide and feeding station was very busy as it was on my visit earlier in the month, plenty of Chaffinch, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Greenfinch and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpecker all visiting in the short period we sat watching.

All in all a fairly productive if not frustrating weekend with the weather.
Blue Tit
Great Tit

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