Friday 25th Nov 2011 - Titterstone Clee Hill .......Rarity Find!!!

Today, after undertaking my voluntary work for the Dog Rescue, I decided to pop up to Titterstone Clee Hill.  I volunteer at Far Forest, so I was already half way there and my way of thinking was that there could possibly be a Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl or perhaps some Snow Buntings around at this Shropshire high point.

I arrived at the summit car park mid-afternoon and waited for the rain to abate before starting my walk.  The place was birdless but for the 3 Ravens that were kronking about and half a dozen Carrion Crows.  The wind was strong and felt icy cold...perhaps I had made the wrong choice of destination. Then I noticed the multitudes of fungi around me especially Waxcaps...I  started snapping away. The visit wouldn't be a complete waste.

As I was walking back towards the car park I noticed a small chat perch on a ridge above the disused quarry buildings.  The bird was slightly silhouetted but it gave a grey appearance and was constantly flicking its tail in a Redstart like fashion.  It the flew down to the ground by the derelict buildings and I caught a flash of white on its rump...straight away I knew it was a Wheatear.  This wasn't one of our normal Northern Wheatears and I could see it was a fairly small bird with a generally grey appearance, a black tail and white in its wing panel.  Some scalloping could be seen near the wings and the ear coverts were noticeably darker.  I knew I had found something good.

I spent the next 45 minutes trying to get a better view of the bird and decide upon its i.d.  I knew it was a vagrant Wheatear...I was tending  towards female Pied but couldn't rule out Black-eared or even Desert...having never seen any of these species it was difficult...your Collins birdguide can only take you so far...especially when the bird was constantly flitting , perching for only a few seconds and then off again...and there are so many dips and ridges where the bird would disappear out of site for a while.  The bird's lack of  settling in one spot and the gale force winds meant that all my digiscoped photos were a blur.  I spoke to a couple of fellow birders on the phone at just gone 3pm and decided to put the news out as a possible Pied Wheatear at 3.20 pm and tried again to get more the dog walkers were pulling up and the bird was even more unsettled.  At 4pm the light was starting to go and I watched the bid drop into one of the ruined buildings...possibly to roost.  I called it a day and hoped that it would be there  in the morning so it could be confirmed.

Forward to the next day...the bird was indeed present and it was confirmed by a number of birders as being a female Desert Wheatear (not Pied as I had initially thought).  Phew...a lifer for me and a great self-found bird.  I'm so glad I made the effort to go up Clee after all!

Desert Wheatear (the crappiest of record shots!)

Titterstone Clee Hill - 25th Nov 2011

Scarlet Waxcap (Hygrocybe coccinea)

Meadow Waxcap (Hygrocybe pratensis)

Yellow Stag's Horn (Calocera viscosa) 


  1. Great find jase!!
    Now just see if it stays untill tomorrow!

  2. Thanks Craig...I would think it may. I hope you get to see it

  3. What a find, in a non-coastal county - perseverance pays off, well done mate, seen loads in Morocco but not one here let's see if if is there over the weekend with these winds!

    Again, top marks


  4. Great find Jase, bet you wished it was on your patch though! Just goes to show what can turn up dont it :-)

  5. I love the mushrooms, they look good enough to eat.....

  6. A great read Jason and a terrific find! Birding is all about anticipation and perseverance, it sure paid off for you on this occasion, magic!



  7. Wow, bang on, Jason. What a find. Sure puts my first ever patch White-fronts to shame.

  8. Laurie - does show if you get out there an put in the time anything is possible!

    Warren - my thoughts exactly! one day a Shenstone Desert theres a thought! (suddenly jase wakes up!)

    Bob- Therewas such a fantastic variety of colourful shrooms up there.

    Keith - Thanks Keith, much appreciated hit the nail on the head about anticipation and perseverance!

  9. Dean...thanks mate I was elated...but as Warren says it is a pity it wasnt on my patch.

    Don't knock your Whitefronts...its all relative when it comes tou our own patches! I can only dream of Whitefront at Shenstone

  10. Great find Jason. Heading up to the hills in the hope of Snow Bunings or similar, not seeing them, getting cold and then .......... It's what makes birding great !!!

    ps Stourbridgerantboy - is that Mr Allen ???


  11. Anonymous - yes it is.

    popping up there today - fingers crossed!

  12. Gary - You hit the nail on the is what makes birding great!

    Laurie - Good luck...hope you get the bird

  13. Wow and wow again!! Congratulations Jason a well deseved find!