Thursday 24th October 2013 - Titterstone Clee Hill & Catherton Common

This morning I decided to head up to Titterstone Clee Hill in Shropshire.  My aim was to photograph some of the amazing array of fungi that are present there and also try and pick up any possible passage migrant birds that may be present.

It was sunny with blue skies when I left Kidderminster but when I went through Cleobury Mortimer the skies were becoming dull and cloudy.  By the time I had  reached Clee Hill I couldn't see the summit it was totally fogged out.  This would scupper my visibility on the bird front but I decided to go up there and photograph the fungi regardless.

The mossy acidic grassland surrounding the summit is exceptional for fungi (especially Waxcaps) and the variety on offer today didn't disappoint.  As usual this time of year I noted large numbers of both Meadow Waxcap & Snowy Waxcap, with Blackening Waxcap & Scarlet Waxcap also noted.  Other interesting species of fungi noted included  Hairy Earth Tongue, Meadow Coral and Turf Mottlegill.

As the morning turned to afternoon the fog eventually started to clear and I finally got to see a few birds, including  3 Stonechats that were present just below the summit car park, a Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrels, and 7 Ravens

Now the visibility had cleared I also picked up three flocks of Fieldfare that flew through (containing 57, 30 & 82 birds).

From the summit area I popped down the road to checkout the area next to the working quarry.  Here
an adult ♂ Stonechat, c.60 Meadow Pipits and 7 Pied Wagtails were present.
 

 
From Titterstone I drove down to Catherton Common which is located a couple of miles down the road on the lower slopes of Clee.  Along the lane a ♂ Stonechat was perched up on a gorse bush and a few Linnets were on the wires.

I parked up at the North East side of the common and undertook a short walk along some of the sheep tracks through the heather.  Not far into the walk a bird took off from one of the boggy pools next literally about a foot away and I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Before I lifted my bins, to get a better view as it flew, I knew what it was, a Jack Snipe!  This made my day as I hadn't expected to flush one at the common and didn't even know they occurred up there. 

Jack Snipe are small compact waders that are more compact than Common Snipe, around a third smaller and has four yellow stripes that run the length of it's back that are easily identifiable in flight.  The length of the bill of a Jack Snipe is about half that of it's larger relative and, unlike a Common Snipe, a Jack Snipe doesn't have a central crown stripe.  Another quirk of the Jack Snipe is that it will sit tight and hanker down if it senses a threat until that threat/perceived threat is literally on top of it when it will fly up.  Common Snipe however will fly off pretty much as soon as they see you getting closer.  Anyway, enough of the id pointers on with the post.

I continued my walk across the heath and didn't get very far when a 2nd Jack Snipe flew up from my feet and made me jump so much I almost caused me to fill my pants with cake!  They are that well camouflaged they are hard to spot amongst the vegetation.  This one flew off in a straight line for about 60-70 metres before dropping down again amongst the heather. 

After a while I lost the track I was following and ended up in in a dense area of heather, so I decided to double back and head to the car.  What a great end to a day that started off so dull!

Turf Mottlegill















Hairy Earthtongue















Blackening Waxcaps

 

9 comments:

  1. A beautiful mushies that you had photos.

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  2. Lovely shots Jason. Something I should take the time to learn more about.

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  3. Bob - Thanks mate!

    Marc - Cheers. It's worth it as it adds extra interest whilst out birding during the autumn months...helps to fill the void left after the dragonflies and butterflies have finished

    Steve - Cheers Mate...much appreciated

    Mike - Thanks, glad you liked them

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  4. Nice one, Jase. A couple of fungi sp`s there that i`ve never seen...or at least i don`t think so.

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  5. Two Jacks in one day Jase! You should have bought a few lottery tickets with a run of luck like that!

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  6. Good blog Jase, never thought of looking for fungi up there. One Jack Snipe is enough, two is greedy and I can never get enough of ID pointers.

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  7. Deano - Cheers mate...looking at the fungi certainly helps to fill a hole in the autumn as the inverts dwindle off

    Phil - Cheers...I know! why didn't I think of that! (doh!)

    Mike - Thanks...glad you enjoyed the read and found the id pointers useful

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