On the way out to Grimley I decided to give Shenstone a miss. Terry H had already been around there earlier that morning and bagged 6 Wheatears so I thought my time may be better spent elsewhere.
Grimley and Holt
Our first stop in this area was at Holt. Over-looking the large field, known locally as Holt prairee, I picked up a ♀ Northern Wheatear perched on a manure pile. Just down the lane near Holt church I nnoticed a ♀ Common Redstart flicking around a brash pile in the clear felled area. There were 2 Oystercatchers at Sling Pool.
At Top Barn activity lake we noted a Swift and c.40 House Martins hawking over the water.
At Grimley 'old workings', a single Oystercatcher was the only bird of note.
Camp Lane pits was by far the most productive area and on arrival we quickly picked up the winter plumage Curlew Sandpiper that had been present the day before. Other waders of note here were 2 Common Sandpiper, a Dunlin, 3 Redshank and 2 Oystercatchers. The highlight here for me though was the stunning flock of 7 Yellow Wagtails that were feeding and flitting about at the north end. A Swift went through whilst we were there and an incredible 25 Mute Swans were also noted in the field on the north west side.
We rounded of our time at Grimley was to vsit Wagon Wheel Lane pits. Things were fairly quite here although we did note a drake Mandarin and 2 Common Sandpipers.
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Whilst we were at Grimley we had bumped into Terry who informed us that a drake Garganey was present at the privately owned/permit only Westwood Pool. He informed us that we should be able to see the bird by viewing over the wall. As I hadn't connected with one last year I thought we would give it ago. We were in luck and within a few minutes of being there we picked up the stonking ♂ Garganey swimming infront of the reeds. If you have never seen a drake Garganey before you really should try and catch up with one...they are such smart looking birds. Also of note at Westwood was a ♂ Mandarin
Things were definitely moving today and whilst we were out and about we had heard news that a Short-eared Owl was showing on/off there. As a rule I don't twitch many things but this was a bird that was sadly missing off my county list so I thought I would give it a punt. On walking past the sailing pool to the flashes we were treated to a flyover Yellow Wagtail. We arrived at the Flashes hide to be informed that the bird had dropped in behind the archery field and hadn't been seen for at least three parts of an hour. We gave it a while in the hide incase the bird was flushed or decided to quarter but it didn't.
The kids had finished shooting at the archery field so Tony and I decided to walk around the back of it to see if we could see the bird. We bumped into old Upton stalwart Gordon Greaves who had just located the bird sitting in a triangle of rough grassland. I focused my scope on it and there was a very dark looking Short-eared Owl hankered down in the rough grass...bingo! I was able to take some footage of the bird...it's not great due to the poor light and keeping a sensible distance from the bird but it does serve as a record.
After enjoying the Owl for a while we headed over to the Moors pool where 2 Arctic Terns and 3 Common Terns were performing well over the water. A number of Reed Warblers were chuntering away from the reed bed here and 7 Swifts went over. We then bumped into Andy Pitt who informed us that a Lesser Whitethroat had been present in the nearby hedgerow earlier and, as if on cue, it started singing it's melodic rattling call. We soon managed to pick up the bird as it went through the hedge and were lucky enough to hear its somewhat scratchy subsong.
Just before we were about to head off local tog Bob Hart pointed out that he had just seen a Wheatear perched in the top of thee large tree along the path to the west hide. I raised my bins to have a look...sure enough there was the Wheatear.
What a great end to a great day but I wonder what I missed at Shenstone. I really must get back there early tommorow!
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