Saturday, 27 April 2013

Clee Hills and the Wyre Forest

I've been a bit slack over the past couple days with my drawing and blogging. In my defence though, over Thursday and Friday I only spent about 6 waking hours at home and most of those were spent doing important stuff like eating and having a shower. On Thursday evening we went to see Tony Law's show 'Maximum Nonsense' which did what it said on the tin in hilarious style, and last night we went to see Iron Man 3, I'm not even embarrassed to say it was bloody marvellous (ho ho) unlike the first 2 which are pretty pants.

Most importantly though, yesterday I spent a very enjoyable day in the company of Alf and Colin doing some top notch birding in Shropshire. When I told Alf a while ago that I'd never seen a Ring Ouzel, he expressed disbelief (I know right?! I've been to plenty of the right places, even heard them a fair few times, but never managed to establish visual contact) and promised he would take me to find some when they returned to the UK. So with Ring Ouzel recently reported near the old quarry workings at Titterstone Clee Hill, we headed out to try and find them.

Part of the old quarry workings.
Where are you Ring Ouzels?
And did we find any? Um, no. Rats, foiled again! There was not an Ouzel in sight, as the most recent report had been from around a week ago we thought maybe they had moved on, or perhaps if they were present they were keeping a low profile as the weather, although mostly sunny, was rather cold, blustery and interspersed with sharp hail showers. I did get my first Wheatears of the year though, and the geology was also interesting - thinking back to the geology module I studied as part of my degree last year (still my favourite module so far!) I made a tentative identification of the stone that was quarried there as a dolerite:

Dolerite collected from Titterstone Clee Hill quarry workings.
It's very dark, clearly mafic in composition, and has a crystalline texture. The grain size is too big for a basalt though, so I decided on dolerite. Therefore I was pretty pleased to find that my limited geology skills don't seem to be too rusty!

After that we headed down to the Wyre Forest where we hoped to find some new spring woodland migrant arrivals. It wasn't easy to begin with, the weather was rather chilly, nothing much seemed to be around or singing and at first we didn't see an awful lot. However some careful searching eventually yielded great views of Wood Warbler, Redstart, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff - all firsts for the year for me. Other nice sightings included a pair of Mandarins drifting down the stream and a Marsh Tit bumbling around right over our heads, brilliant! We'd hoped for Dipper which didn't happen, but we were nonetheless very happy with our day's birding.

The Wyre Forest.
There were Wood Anemones everywhere, one of my favourite spring flowers:

Wood Anemones.
On the way home we also made a brief stop near Shenstone to look over the fields for Corn Bunting, we didn't see or hear any but we did see Yellowhammer, always a super bird.

Unfortunately I didn't get any sketching done, there was not much opportunity and I may have left my sketchbook in the car (ahem). However I will endeavour to do drawings galore to make up for it this weekend!

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