a million voices for nature
2 March 2003
We arrived at around 9.30am and parked in the riverside car park at the foot of the castle hill. As usual, some of the many Jackdaws that roost here were calling and circling around in typical fashion. Across the river, sitting quietly in a tree, was a Buzzard. It watched us for a while, then flew off silently. After having a cup of coffee, we went onto the bridge over the River Teme, joining other members of the group, who had been watching a Marsh Tit excavating a nest hole in a dead tree. A pair of Grey Wagtails were chasing around the rooftops here and kept us entertained for a while, until a Treecreeper was noticed climbing a trunk not six feet away.
The river was running quite high following recent rain and so there was no exposed shingle, which was disappointing as there is usually a good chance of seeing Dipper here - but not today. Looking up into the trees on the slopes of Whitcliffe Common, we saw Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Bullfinch. The real purpose of our visit here was to see Hawfinch - some of us did but most of us didn't; that's the way it goes. This is one of the best places for Hawfinch, early morning before there is too much disturbance and ideally before there are too many leaves on the trees. Incidentally, Hawfinch is listed on the "amber list", being if "medium Conservation Concern, as there has been a contraction of its UK breeding range of between 25% and 49% during the last 25 years.
Moving up into the woods in the Common we saw Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Goldcrest and Nuthatch. A pair of Buzzards flew from the fields way below us, up and over the hill on which we stood, passing no more than 20 feet above us.
Back at the car park, we found a Kingfisher in almost the same tree as the Buzzard had been in earlier.
Moving on to this popular site, we followed a waymarked path through mixed conifer woodland, up an incline, which became progressively steeper. Pausing for breath, what at first had papered to be a pair of Greenfinch were soon identified as two female Crossbill, feeding at the top of a tree. This was the first of three very good views of Crossbill we had during the afternoon, the final of which was a singing male in full view in good sunlight. We also had Siskin, Redpoll and Raven in and over the woods. The scenery was even more breathtaking than the climb!
On the way back through Ludlow, we stopped alongside the Teme, a bit further downstream, and had good views of a pair of Goosander.
We drove to the old quarry at the top of the hill in the hope of seeing more birds, but unfortunately the place was full of motorbikes, using the old spoil heaps for scrambling. Appropriately enough, the ordnance Survey map shows this place to be called "Bedlam", which must give some idea of what the site was like when the quarries were in operation. No birds up here then, but we did enjoy the clear views of Birmingham and the Black Country, plus the venue for our next trip, the Malverns.
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