Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Shropshire Day 3-Part 2

After the obvious success of the first walk we decided to try again furthur downstream, to see if we could see any more wildlife. Luckily there was plenty more to be had at our next stop, a small riverside village that I forgot the name of. No sooner had we pulledup in the car park than a buzzard flew overhead. There was nothing exceptional about this, as it was warm day then the birds would naturally be soaring on the thermals.
Having lunch in the car, we could see the river and all the fishermen fishing. The guy right in front of us had a freind who basically told everyone nearby that the fisherman had caught a barble. This was a fish that I had never seen, so I had a look and it was a pretty spectacular fish, about 1-1.5 feet long. It was a really nice fish.
As soon as I left the car after lunch I found a flock of long-tailed tits gradually moving across the car park frombush to bush. I positioned myself where they would cross the car park to the next row of bushes, and was rewarded with stunning views of this rather handsome birds. I also managed a few shots, but I was dissapointed with them given how close I was to the birds, never mind, its the memories that count.

-Long Tailed tit

We decided to walk downstream because that was the only way that the path seemed to go! That was on the other side of the river to the car park, and it was a pretty spectacular view from the bridge over. Once over any trace of the village vanished and we were left in beautiful countryside along the river. Having already seen a dragonfly today i decided to check every fishing spot to see if there were any resting on the trees or reeds.

However the first thing we saw was a bird that has sadly been missing from the holiday given its abundance last time, that being the kingfisher. We diddnt get much of a view though, as so often happens, you see it first as it races away up or down the river after you flush it, and that was the case here. However we were fortunate enough to see exactly where it landed, though by the time we got there, it had already left.

As I was checking every spot my family had already moved futhur ahead, as the main location we wanted to reach was the spectacular railway bridge that goes over the river, and there was a train due anytime soon.

As I played catchup I continued to see quite little, however I did spot a willow or marsh tit in the willow, though I don't know how to tell them appart on site, and I have no photos for reference, so I was dissapointed, although it was nice to see.

I caughtup with my family at the downstream side of the bridge. As soon as I arrived my brother said that he had found a blue dragonfly and that it was landed, by his foot, though it conviniently flew off as I arrived. There are only two dragonflies out at this time of year, and common darters are not blue, so that left the blue migrant hawker. There were at least 3 of these dragonflies holding territories across a 10m stretch of the river. They were deffinatly migrants, as they were smaller than any other hawkers that i had seen. I tried my best to catch them in flight, but they were very swift and difficult to catch on photo. However my brother had said that the one he saw had been landed, and they were landing-just not conviniently. But as soon as my oppertunity came, one landing on the shore, I took my chance to get this valuable record shot.

-Migrant Hawker
On the other hand, the common darters were much more obliging. There were about 6 and they were all peacefully resting on the riverbank, on dock leaves in front of us. There were even two in tandem, which i though was a bit odd given the time of year.

-Common Darter Male
I continued to watch the migrant hawkers as the gracefully stalked the riverside. The faught frequently with their compatriots and common darters too, they flew quite close to me in flight, but sadly thats a pain for the camera because their so close so movement is applified. But the view was stunning regardless.

Then I hit the jackpot, for a dragonfly watcher. I spotted one landed not too far away that i could reach. However to reach it I would have to cross a sticky bud plant and nettles and brambles. The question was, is it worth it? The answere, Yes and so I stealthily crossed the obstacle plants to reach my quarry. Sadly the specemin was badly damaged as you will see from the photos below, with one wing torn and the other missing its end. However its unfortunatness gave me a great oppertunity to get the photos I had been wanting.

-Migrant Hawker
It is painful to see such a stunning creature in such a state. But as I left i spooked it it flew off, so it obviously could fly, but chose not to. My family had left a while ago, after the train had gone over, so I knew my time here was limited. It was an interesting site, with about 10 dragonflies all in a small area but nowhere else on the whole river stretch that I had seen, maybe to do with the presence of the bridge of summit. Either way it was great to see all those interesting dragonflies, including a real tick in migrant hawker, and so late in the year.

On the way back to the car I spotted a trio of muscovy ducks under the bridge, so decided to take a couple of shots, just because...

-Muscovy Ducks

After all that we went to a town in the afternoon. But either way this has been by far the best day of the holiday, what with kingfishers, dragonflies and a host of other birds. including migrant hawker, a species that i really wanted to see.

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