Not that I need much excuse to go birding but a free afternoon on a glorious sunny late winter’s day gave me the perfect excuse to nip out to SWT’s Earl’s Hill nature reserve, on the hunt for Green Woodpecker and possibly some other woodland birds that have so far eluded me.
I started out from the car park along the lower path, strolling through the woodland, listening out for the telltale songs of the Green Woodpecker, and Willow Tit, which are also resident on the reserve.The woods resounded to the songs of Blue and Great Tit, and Robins, and then the telltale cronking of Ravens alerted me to two flying over the summit of the hill. I spent the next few minutes watching their display flight, which consists of folding in the wings, and doing a half barrel roll, very unusual and lovely to see.
Almost as soon as they flew away they were replaced by two Buzzards soaring over the hill in the warm air, and then when they left three beautiful Red Kites took their place. I was waiting for a Goshawk to follow but sadly that was not to be!
Other than a Mistle Thrush searching in the grass for food I had the summit to myself, and enjoyed the 360 degree views of South Shropshire disappearing into the haze. Amazing to think that this lovely spot is only 8 miles south of Shrewsbury.
I then walked back slowly down the steep path through the woodland to the car park, and just as I arrived a movement in the shrubs caught my eye. A quick search with the bins revealed a lovely little Goldcrest, not a new species for me this year , but a new one for Shropshire, putting me on 72 for the county, and still on 124 overall.
So no new species for the year, but more than made up for by the lovely walk, great views, fabulous weather, and the amazing aerial displays by the ravens, buzzards and kites.