Today I popped out for a day's birding with Mark (Door Stop Birding). The weather conditions were superb and we headed into Southeast Shropshire to the high point of Titterstone Clee Hill. Mark was hoping to see a passage Ring Ouzel and I was hoping for a bit of raptor movement. But we both knew that even if we didn't get any of our target species the views would be fantastic up there.
Just before reaching the summit car park Mark clocked an interesting raptor going away from us over the adjacent grassland. Mark stopped the car and I grabbed my bins for a look. I didn't have much of a view before the bird disappeared over the brow of the hill but my gut feeling was it was Red Kite. We headed on up to the carpark.
We decided to walk towards around the summit, past the old quarry, towards the NATS radar station building first. On the way around we saw 2 cracking ♂ Northern Wheatears and a ♂ Peregrine was performing well over the quarried area. On the gorse bushes below the NATS buildings a cracking pair of Stonechats were showing well the only trouble was the spent most of the time facing away from where we were stood...see the attached photos. Also of note were a couple of Meadow Pipits that were seen displaying with their parachuting flight in this area.
Walking back past the quarry the local sheep farmer came up to us on his quad bike and pointed out that a Red Kite had landed on a fence post over by his fields. I quickly got the bird in the scope and we enjoyed somewhat distant views of Red Kite...still that's not to be sniffed at.
Checking out some of the crystal clear pools at the edge of the acid grassland within the quarry we managed to see a Smooth Newt and a few Water Boatmen. There were also a handful of Peacock butterflies on the wing in this area.
Shortly afterwards we bumped into a group of Black Country birder's that we knew, who had popped up there with the same idea. It was particularly nice to see and chat with John Hingley who is now getting out and about again after recent serious health problems.
After chatting for a while we headed back past the carpark to the opposite side of the summit. All that was of note here was another ♂ Northern Wheatear and 2 more Peacock butterflies. On returning to the car we were treated to what I feel was one of the day's highlights.....3 Red Kites came over the summit and were performing in the sunlight above us...what a cracking sight!!!! In fact at one point we had the 3 Red Kites, 4 Common Buzzards and the ♂ Peregrine all up at the same time...forget your rarities, birding doesn't get much better than this!
Also noted whilst in the summit area were 7 Ravens, a Kestrel and 6 Pied Wagtails.
We then drove across to the land next to the working quarry. Here we were treated to another of the day's highlights when 3 Peregrine (2♂ & 1♀) came over low over our heads and started performing for us. The 2 males in particular were getting feisty, chasing and calling. Also in this area were 2 more Northern Wheatear (1♂ & 1♀) and c.30 Meadow Pipits. All in all it was a great day's birding and although we didn't get Ring Ouzel it was certainly all about the raptors!
♂ Northern Wheatear - Titterstone Clee
♀ Stonechat - Titterstone Clee
♂ Stonechat - Titterstone Clee