Fog rolling in over a frozen Whitemere
I picked up Latham at 7.45 and then we made our way to the south of the county. Just out of Shrewsbury, fog had decended and it was a turn around to give the south a miss and do the meres in the north instead. Latham thought it might be a good idea to go cross country and have a look for Dipper. At the first bridge, Lathem went ahead. What a shock I got when he shouted, F### Me, OTTER!! I raced up to where he was looking and was amazed to see, not one, but three!! They performed well just below in front of us, hunting and playing in the wier. One of them caught a fish and started to eat it on some rocks to our left! They stuck around for about five minutes and then they were over the wier, swam up stream and were gone. Living on Scilly, I never thought I would see a Shropshire Otter. Otters were recorded on very rare occasions, on the River Severn mainly, when I lived here, but Lathem told me that there making a come back. The only other one I've seen before this, was swimming in the middle of Drift Reservior, Cornwall, at the same time as I was watching a White-rumped Sandpiper! That was good at the time, but these 3 OTTERS were pure magic! I felt so good about the Otters, that I didn't care how the rest of the day went.
We looked for Dippers elsewhere, but the only bird of note, was a Willow Tit near Venus Pool. At the latter site, like everywhere else, it was frozen over. However a look at the large finch flock produced, 40+Reed Buntings, 35+Yellowhammers, 2 of each Tree Sparrows and Brambings, lots of chaffinches and a male Merlin.
Lathem suggested to have a look at the Whooper Swans at nearby Cressage. Good job we did and as we approached the field, Jim Almond a local birder, was already there. We counted altogether, 3 Whooper Swans and 8 Bewick's Swans with 40+Mute Swans feeding in the Kale fields! I'll keep a watch on this site as much as I can.
Jim tried his luck with Jack Snipe at Chelmarsh and we made our way to the meres. As we scanned Crosemere, the fog rolled in again and it made it difficult to see all the way across to the otherside of the mere. It didn't really matter anyway, because it was totally frozen over. On the bank, there were over 100 Wigeon feeding. The other meres were also fogged in and frozen over. Woodlane Tip held over 200 Herring Gulls, but that was it. It turned out to be a waste of time.
Later near to home, we looked at other areas and all we got of note were 15 Lesser Redpolls near Muxton with a single also at Hortonwood.
Two of the OTTERS showing very well, with one of them eating a fish on top of the rocks.
One of the OTTERS jumping over the rocks by the wier
3 SHROPSHIRE OTTERS eating a fish before disappearing over the wier. PURE MAGIC!!
3 adult Whooper Swans at Cressage
Altogether there were 8 Bewicks Swans
A family of 4 Bewick's Swans at Cressage
An iced over Shropshire Union Canal, Elleesmere