I managed to grab a quick hour's birding at Shenstone early on Sunday morning. I've been studying for an exam on 11 March, but unable to resist the urge to get out in the field I took my nose out of my books and headed for a favourite spot of mine.
Shenstone is a small village between Bromsgrove and Kidderminster. It is a reliable site for Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge, relatively scarce birds around these parts. On arriving at about 7:30am, I opened the car door and immediately felt as though I had travelled back in time to England as it might have been in the 1950s.
The first sound that hit my ears was that of a number of Skylarks happily singing away in the fields to my right and it only took a matter of seconds for me to pick one out with the binoculars [year tick 125!]. Next came the familiar song of a Yellowhammer in the trees lining the road. Not a year tick, but wonderful birds all the same.
A stroke of luck next when I flushed something from the undergrowth. I thought it might be a rabbit at first, but a pair of Grey Partridge [year tick 126!] appeared and promptly scuttled off into the field to my left. A Green Woodpecker was noted grubbing around in the grass further up the road. A scan through the trees and fence posts for Little Owls was unsuccessful. They remain a noteable absentee from the life list, but I'm sure I will run into one somewhere this year.
As I reached the junction of Heath Lane I suddenly heard a Corn Bunting singing. I guessed it was probably in the large tree in the field to my right, as that's where I have seen them before. True to form, once I had a better view, I could see it perched on top [year tick 127!].
I carried on down the lane in the hope of latching onto the Chaffinch and Brambling flock that has been seen here in recent weeks. Unfortunately, fog prevented me from seeing much at all the last time I was here. Not today though. I soon located the flock and had nice, if distant, views of the Chaffinches and their smartly-attired relatives, plus Pied Wagtails and Fieldfares in good numbers.
I had a slow walk back to the car and noted the more usual species, including Long-Tailed Tits. In keeping with the mood of post-war England, however, I wondered whether I should note them down as Huggen-Muffins. At least, I think that's how they used to be referred to. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.
In a similar vein, I was tempted to add Windhover to the list when a Kestrel appeared over the nearby woodland. Maybe the next time I visit Shenstone, I should wear a demob suit and arrive by Morris Minor!
Once back home and in the noughties again, I was discussing my excursion with Mrs Telescope when two Lesser Redpolls appeared in the damson tree. They were there for a few fleeting seconds and then they were gone. I've had a few in the garden before, but they are rare visitors and these are the first ones I've seen this year.
All in all, a brief, but excellent visit to 1950s rural England. And I still had change for a fish supper!