Sunday 12 April 2009


With a vertical band of cloud dividing the country, it was logical that I head west in search of sunshine and of course some feathery friends. Last year I discovered a good spot for birding over in Shropshire, on and around Clee Hill, so that was where I headed.

Normally on the hill, the weather is changeable and the winds, even in the summer, chilly, so I opted for thermals... bad move. Never seen the place so still and warm! I suppose it was a little early for all the good stuff to be back, but the usuals were around, and it didn't stop a male kestrel from performing a magic trick for me.
Perched in glorious light on the top of a telegraph pole as I drove by. Stayed there as I turned around and parked up with the sun behind me. Stayed put as I opened the window and turned off the engine... then in the split second between picking up the camera and pointing it out of the window it had vanished. Keyser Soze, eat your heart out.

On the hill, bobbing about were pied wagtails. One male tried to court a female, by dancing around her, spreading his wings and tail - quite a sight. Not to her though, as she promptly pecked him on the head, sending him away in a flash. Romance eh?

A few wheatears were also around, along with linnets, pipits and more robins than I remember from last year.

The main reason for heading up though wasn't the little birds, but for the fastest animal on the planet... the peregrine falcon. They made me wait for them, but when they did appear, it was certainly worthwhile.
Screeches and wails, swoops and dives, going like a bat out of hell they were, appearing seemingly out of nowhere to hurtle by. I'll never tire of these wonderful hunters.

I do wish they'd fly around more though, as the gaps between action were rather long, and as you don't want to take your eyes off where they appear, with the sun being out, I ended up looking like Batman's villain, Two Face... half my face red from sunburn!

I had wanted to seek out the ring ouzels up there but before I knew it, the day was gone, and they would have to wait for another day. Well, so long as the falcons weren't around!

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