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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Hen Harrier at Whixall Moss

  This morning, in the dull light, we went looking for Willow Tit, as John hasn't seen one for over 25 years! I had three sites to check out and the first one was Haugmond Hill. As soon as we started walking from th car, I heard a Marsh Tit, followed by other tits and then a Willow Tit. We found a large roving flock of tits including Blue and Great, 15+Long-tailed, 2 Coal, 1 Marsh and 2 Willow Tits. Also there were at least 8+Treecreepers in the area including 4 together, 2 Nuthatch, 1 Great Spotted Wood pecker and Bullfinch and 10+redpoll flew over. Over the road in Abbey Wood, we found a small tit flock. Again there were 2 Willow Tits and one of the birds showed very well to the delight of John.

Up to 4 Willow Tits were at Haughmond Hill

 Heading north, we went looking for Grey Partridge and tried my old local patch, Baggy Moor. As I lived on the moor, over firthteen years ago for ten years, I found some good birds. However, today the most interestings birds were 4 Shelduck with over 70 Teal on the lagoons. After this, we made our way to the meres and driving there we saw 5 Corn Bunting on the wires near Cockshutt.

2 of the 5 Corn Buntings near Cockshutt

3 of the 4 Shelducks on the lagoons at Baggy Moors

Baggy Moor has produced wintering Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls in the past. Also, I always saw a Merlin with three on one occassion and in the summer, Quails were heard every year with as many as nine different birds in '94. 

The lagoons are very small, but has produced some very good county birds. Highlights have included, 2 Waxwing, 3 Common Scoter, Ruddy Shelduck, 3 Curlew Sand, 5 Little Stint, Bar-wit, 2 Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Blue-headed Wagtail and in May '95 Crane. Almost every spring you would also find Garganey. May '91, there were 33 Black Terns! These flew off high west. The following day there were 30 birds! In ten years I lived two minutes away from the moor and watched it almost daily.

 There was nothing of note on the meres, so just after 15.00 we arrived at Whixall Moss hoping to see the wintering Short-eared Owl. I had a wonder around the moss and managed to see over 20 redpoll, 2 Siskin, 3 Shoveler, Sparrowhawk and Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting. I joined up with John, who was waiting at the Short-eared Owl roost site. From here I constantly scanned the moss and at 17.45 I picked up the male Hen Harrier coming into roost and got John on it quickly before it went down. We stayed to almost dark, but no sign of the owl.


Whixall Moss. I made a lot of visits here, when I lived in the area, and as a result I managed to see Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Bewick Swan, Grey Plover and Red-necked Phalarope!  Also, the only Hen Harrier I saw here was also a male! 

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