And now for something completely different...
Not quite Cairngorm; this is snow-capped Titterstone Clee in Shropshire. Although I hadn't been here before, it was a good call by Martyn to go and look for Ring Ouzel and other passage migrants.
We locked onto our first Ring Ouzel within minutes before the bird disappeared into scrub on the south slope. We could however hear some Ring Ouzel calls and with a little persistence 5 Ring Ouzels revealed themselves when they came out to feed in a grassy area. 4 males and 1 female. Result!
|Ring Ouzel - image supplied by Martyn Yapp|
Other migrants are much slower than usual to arrive this year due to the prolonged cold northerly winds and wintery weather. We managed one male Wheatear, which was only my first this year. Other stuff noted included 2 Peregrine, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel and around 30 Meadow Pipit.
The rest of the day was then spent around the Wyre Forest. Highlights included 1 Marsh Tit, 1 Brambling, 8 Siskin, Grey Wagtail, Yellowhammer, 5 Mandarin and a doo-lally day-flying pipistrelle bat.
Sunday 7th April
The morning began with a dip. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Ladywalk NR. The birds have been regular on the reserve and our mistake really was to visit the River Walk Hide and miss the birds showing by 10 minutes.
The Scaup was still present and we also noted 2 Willow Tit, 4 GS Woodpecker, 1 Curlew, 1 Redshank, 2 Snipe, 12 Goosander and 4 singing Chiffchaff.
|Scaup - image by Martyn Yapp|
As we now needed cheering up, we could not resist popping in at nearby Shustoke for this extremely showy Kittiwake....
Usually a fleeting visitor to our midlands inland waters, this Kittiwake was showing very close in and was coming to bread brought in by Sunday duck feeders.
Also a Kingfisher was noted here and several Great Crested Grebes were getting jiggy.
|Great Crested Grebes|
Our next move was to be a crucial one. We almost got tempted by some Staffs twitching, however we decided to stay in the area and do Dosthill. So glad we made this choice, as it came up trumps with our surprise find of a female Bearded Tit!
There was a very surreal moment in which we heard a familiar 'ping' from the tiny reedbed of the pond between the Waterski Pit and North Pit, but looked at a Coot and Reed Bunting in confusion as to why something was calling like a Beardie. Suddenly the Bearded Tit revealed itself crashing round this scrap of reedbed.
As Bearded Tit is a rarity in this neck of the woods we scrambled the news out pronto, although we were not entirely sure whether we were in Staffs or Warks, as this is border territory. Equally good in either county, we then sat back and enjoyed this little gem before other birders began to arrive on the scene. One of my most memorable regional birding moments so far!
Be sure to also visit Martyn's Adult Plumage blog for some quality images of the Bearded Tit.