Mike's 200 bird challenge Blog 6

March 11th – Rowton, North Shropshire

Bramblings continue to elude me!! Almost everywhere I have been birding has either had recent sightings of Bramblings, or were supposed to be good locations for them. On another sortie to Venus Pool recently (where they seem to be seen daily), I apparently missed one at the woodland hide by literally seconds! The person who imparted this little gem of information did tell me about a pair of Little Owls that have been seen around a North Shropshire village, and having not seen one in many years the lure was enticing, so off I headed to Rowton more in hope than expectation.

It was another sunny afternoon as I parked up by the church and wandered the lanes, checking all the farm buildings and old trees for any sign of the owls. The village was alive with birds, Greenfinch and Goldfinch flitting around in the trees and farmyard, house sparrows chirruping from every hedge and bush, Stock Doves, Collared Doves and Wood pigeons everywhere, and a flock of at least 50 Redwing feeding in a distant field, but no sign of the owls.

However as I wandered up a farm track out of the village a bird on an overhead wire caught my eye, and through my binoculars I immediately thought Corn Bunting, a quite scarce farmland bird that had not often been reported from this area. As it was quite a long way away I wasn’t entirely convinced, but it obligingly remained in position long enough for me to get it in the scope, tick off all the i.d. features from my Collins guide, and get some decent photos and video through my Viking phonescope attachment, enough to convince me that I was watching a lovely Corn Bunting. And then to complete the identification the bird began to sing, and a quick check on the RSPB app on my phone confirmed the sighting completely. The Bunting was a real bonus, along with a Kestrel perched on a distant hedge, consuming a late afternoon snack!

The Little Owls will have to wait for another day.

Corn bunting

Mike Bell