This afternoon I managed to grab an hour and pop for a whistle stop visit to Shenstone. I know I have been cutting down on my birding to spend more time with our elderly dog (which I don't mind doing one bit). But what opportunity I did have to go out this week was scuppered by a heavy dose of man flu. Needless to say by Thursday cabin fever had set in and I thought 'blow it, I need some fresh air'. I'm glad I did as it turned out to be a very productive day!
First port of call was Barrs Lane. I could see large numbers of gulls following the tractor as it was ploughing and thought it may be worth a closer look. On pulling in at the lay by and scanning the field I could now see the incredible number of gulls that were in the field, most of which were sat in the middle of the plough. I estimate that there were c.260 Black-headed Gulls, c.80 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and c.40 Herring Gulls.
I spent a good half hour or so repeatedly scanning through them as there were a lot of immature large gulls there and I was hoping for an Iceland Gull (there are incredible numbers in the country at the moment). Try as I might I couldn't see an immature gull with white wing tips but all this scanning wasn't completely fruitless. I picked up an adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst them. Unfortunately it flew before I managed to get any photos off, heading, with a number of other gulls, towards the nearby Hartlebury Landfill. I was dead chuffed as this was only the 2nd time I had seen one on the patch...although fellow local birder Terry H has also recorded individuals on the plough on a 2 or 3 previous occasions.
Also recorded in this field were 14 Pied Wagtails, c.40 Linnet and 2 Common Buzzards. One of the Common Buzzards was a very unusual looking individual which I think is probably a first winter light-phase bird. When you see a bird that is so different looking as this bird you can understand how Misidentifications could possibly occur. I've put a photo and some video footage of the bird further on down the post. A single Corn Bunting was also noted perched along Barrs Lane.
Next stop on my journey was Heath Lane. There were 4 Corn Buntings on the wires near the paddock. Over the large cereal field opposite there was a flock of c.300 Linnets whirling around. Elsewhere on the lane a charm of 20 Goldfinch and a single Redwing were noted.
My final destination was Witch Lane, where I recorded 25 Fieldfare, 4 Stock Dove and 2 Pied Wagtails.
Gulls on the plough
Unusual looking Common Buzzard
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