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Shropshire

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis ©Jim Almond Website

Birding Shropshire

Shropshire (alternatively Salop) is a county in the West Midlands of England, bordering Wales to the west, Cheshire to the north, Staffordshire to the east, and Worcestershire and Herefordshire to the south. Shropshire is landlocked and with an area of 1,346 square miles is England's largest inland county.

Being situated on the border between England and Wales, Shropshire has a wide range of habitats from upland moorland, down to the fertile valleys of slow flowing rivers. There is coniferous and deciduous woodland, some remnant lowland heathland and extensive areas of farmland, from small upland hill farms to the large fields of the lowland farms in the east of the county.

The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers about a quarter of the county, mainly in the south. Shropshire is one of England's most rural and sparsely populated counties. The Wrekin is one of the most famous natural landmarks in the county, though the highest hills are the Clee Hills, Stiperstones and the Long Mynd. Wenlock Edge is another significant geographical and geological landmark. In the low-lying northwest of the county overlapping the border with Wales is the Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve, one of the most important and best preserved bogs in Britain. The River Severn, Great Britain's longest river, runs through the county, exiting into Worcestershire via the Severn Valley.

The collection of meres around Ellesmere is a focal point for winter wildfowl and gull roosts. This is the nearest we get to sea watching, especially when gales blow in Leach's Petrel, Manx Shearwater or Gannet. In this large, under watched county rarities tend to disappear - the only Bluethroat for the county was found dead under a bungalow window! A number of sites are good for waders especially the Shropshire Ornithological Society's reserve at Venus Pool, also the Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserves at Wood Lane near Ellesmere and Chelmarsh, near Bridgnorth.

The last vestiges of moorland on the Shropshire Hills are the place to see Red Grouse, Ring Ouzel, Stonechat and even an occasional Merlin. Pied Flycatcher and Redstart are mostly confined to the hill country of the southwest but Raven and Peregrine have increased their range in recent years and may be encountered on the Shropshire plain.

The largest habitat is farmland and can still produce Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting and Skylark. Lapwings cling on but are becoming scarcer by the year. The conifer woods of the southwest occasionally produce Crossbills and Siskins whilst Goshawks lurk in the shadows.

Top Sites

Chelmarsh Reservoir

Information

Satellite View

The long narrow Chelmarsh reservoir attracts wintering duck and passing gulls and terns. The Shropshire Wildlife Trust and the South Staffordshire Water Company manage the marsh at the west end to attract waders on passage. There is a hide from which the reed bed and pools can be observed in comfort. Reed Warbler and Water Rail are among the wetland birds to be seen at this site.

Earl's Hill

Webpage

Satellite View

The Shropshire Wildlife Trust's flagship reserve south of Shrewsbury near the village of Pontesbury. It has a wide range of habitats from grassland and scrub to deciduous woodland and the Habberley brook providing homes for a wide range of species. Meadow Pipit and Raven may be seen near the top of the reserve whilst the woodland holds warblers, tits, woodpeckers and Pied Flycatcher. Along the stream are Grey Wagtail and Dipper.

Ellesmere

Webpage

Satellite View

Close to the town of Ellesmere, Ellesmere, is the largest of a number of meres in this area. With a small heronry on the island, visible from the visitor centre, the mere is worth a visit at any time of year. In the winter it is particularly good for gulls with a large roost often containing some of the rarer species, and usually has a range of wintering ducks including Goosander, Smew. Wintering Cormorants have a roost here but keep an eye open for the occasional diver.

Long Mynd

Information

Satellite View

Dominating southern Shropshire is the upland mass of the Long Mynd. Some 13km by 6km, the National Trust largely owns it. Although the pressure of sheep grazing has influenced the varied habitats this is still a good area to see Red Grouse, Ring Ouzel, Stonechat, Whinchat and Wheatear. The steep valleys contain Grey Wagtail and Dipper whilst Raven and Buzzard are often seen overhead. For the lucky a fleeting glimpse of Merlin may be a bonus.

Stiperstones

Information

Satellite View

To the west of the Long Mynd, the Stiperstones is another upland site, with more rocky outcrops and more heather among the boulder-strewn ridge. A National Nature Reserve with interesting geology and botany in addition to its upland birds. Attempts are being made to return this ridge to a continuous tract of heather moorland and many of the conifer plantations are being removed. For more information see the Shropshire Wildlife Trust Site (below).

Venus Pool

Satellite View

Situated just to the south of the A458 Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth road (about 5 miles SE of Shrewsbury) this shallow pool with gravel islands now has a public hide. There are two smaller hides that are reserved for members of the Shropshire Ornithological Society who own and manage the site. A good spot for passage waders, gulls and terns in season and it has a large Black-headed Gull colony.

Whitecliffe Common

Webpage

Satellite View

Situated to the south west of the River Teme the common overlooks Ludlow but it is the woodland that covers the steep slope down to the river that holds a small flock of Hawfinches that are found under the Hornbeams most winters. There will also be flocks of tits and other finches whilst the river itself is a good place to see Kingfisher, Dipper, Siskin and Redpoll.

Wood Lane

Satellite View

This wetland is reclaimed sand and gravel workings and has been recently developed by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust; it is a good place for waders on passage. Access to the hides is by permission only. For more detail visit the SWT website. Local observers are developing a website for this site which is due to be launched later this year (2000) - watch this space!

Contributor

Colin Wright

Biological Records Officer, Shropshire Wildlife Trust

Shrewsbury

colinwright6@btinternet.com

County Recorder

Martyn Owen

34 Peacock Hill, Alveley, WV15 6JX

01746 780336

soscountyrecorder@gmail.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: ?

County Bird - Common Buzzard Buteo buteo [The county list is being scrutinised adn revised]

Useful Reading

Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Shropshire

By P Deans | Shropshire Ornithological Society | 1992 | Paperback | 208 pages, Maps,line illus |

ISBN: 095186890X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Wetlands of Shropshire and Staffordshire

By MD Leah, CE Wells, P Stamper, E Huckerby & C Welch | Oxbow Books | 1998 | Paperback | 252 pages, b/w photos, figs. |

ISBN: 1862200238

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in West Midlands

by F Gribble, G Harrison, H Griffiths, J Winsper & S Coney | Christopher Helm | 2007 | Paperback | 343 pages, 53 maps, 24 line drawings |

ISBN: 9780713664195

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Biological Records Officer at Shropshire Wildlife Trust

Robin Mager: RobinM@shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk 01743 284289 who would welcome records of birds, plants, animals etc from the Trust Reserves.

Organisations

RSPB Shropshire Local Group

Webpage

The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society's conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We have regular monthly indoor meetings with speakers throughout the year and have monthly walks and visits to local nature reserves.

Shropshire Ornithological Society

Website

SOS is involved in the management of several sites in the County, to ensure they remain attractive habitats for birds. Venus Pool, an important wetland, is owned and managed by the Society. Also see their twitter site

Shropshire Wildlife Trust

Website

Our vision is for Shropshire to be alive with wildlife, loved by people and its wild places cherished. The Trust cares for 40 nature reserves, including woods, meadows and wetland bird havens.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

NNR Fenn's, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses

Webpage

Satellite View

Straddling the English border, near Whitchurch in Shropshire and Wrexham in Wales, lies one of the biggest and best raised bogs in Britain. Its astonishingly varied wildlife makes it a place of international importance. Main habitats: lowland raised bog, wet woodland, wet peaty fields, heathland and Teesdalia grassland.

NNR Stiperstones

Information

Satellite View

Animals of significance include red grouse, stonechat, upland wood ant, grayling and pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies, while plants to note are cowberry, crowberry, yellow mountain pansy, moonwort and stag's horn clubmoss…

NNR Wem Moss

Webpage

Satellite View

Wem Moss is an outstanding example of a lowland raised bog, a wildlife habitat that exists in Britain today in just tiny remnant fragments. Ninety-four per cent of its former range has been destroyed or degraded by drainage, intensive peat cutting, grazing, forestry and pollution, leaving just 503 hectares of unspoilt raised bog in England.

Priorslee Lake

Website

Satellite View

With the River Severn winding its way through the towns and villages of Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth, this impressive river is an important landmark for waders, that use it to navigate their way to their breeding grounds to the north. And one particular landmark along its path, is Priorslee Lake which has proven to be an important stopover for many of these birds. Lying close to the Severn Valley it is one of the few lakes that migratory birds see at altitude and thus provides an ideal opportunity for a bathe and stopover.

SOS Venus Pool

Webpage

Satellite View

The SOS flagship Reserve. Originally a large pool in a field, probably formed when the railway embankment on the north side was built and impeded natural drainage…

SWT Earl's & Pontesford Hill

Webpage

Satellite View

In spring the wood – hazel, oak, field maple, holly and yew - is awash with bluebells and singing with migrant birds, encouraged to breed here by the provision of numerous nest boxes. Dippers can be spotted flying just above the stream, or bobbing up and down on rocks. There is fine old meadowland here, with anthills of the yellow hill ant – a favoured feeding ground for green woodpeckers. In summer look out for the tiny purple flowers of wild thyme and butterflies, such as small blues and orange tips.

SWT Wood Lane Nature Reserve

Webpage

Satellite View

One of the best bird-watching sites in Shropshire, Wood Lane Nature Reserve has been developed in recent years on worked-out industrial land, Tudor Griffiths Group’s old sand and gravel workings near Ellesmere. Reserve manager, Shropshire Wildlife Trust - Tel: 01743 284280 - enquiries@shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk

Forums & Mailing Lists

Shropshire Birds

Mailing Group

Interested in Birds, Bats ,Insects, flowers of Shropshire? This is the place for the latest in county information. All messages are searchable for species, date and place, making it a one stop database for the county.

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Ashfield Farmhouse

Accommodation

Old roses and scarlet creepers ramble this lovely 16th Century Coaching house and Georgian farmhouse. Spacious quality accommodation gently combining both Welsh and English Country traditions. Large fragrant gardens and orchard, one mile south of Oswestry and one mile from A5 and A483. Nestled amidst unspoilt beauty in the peaceful Shropshire/Welsh Borderlands rich in splendid mountains, lakes and woodlands and enchanting castles. An abundance of birds and animals, catch a glimpse of timid badgers or soaring buzzards, much to experience and explore.

Brimford House

Accommodation

Brimford is an elegant Georgian farmhouse nestling in beautiful, tranquil surroundings on the Shropshire/Welsh border between the River Severn and the Briedden hill. The area is only 20 minutes away from Shrewsbury and Welshpool. The bedrooms are of a high standard, large, and spacious with TV and coffee making facilities. Good hearty farmhouse breakfasts are served with homemade preserves and free range eggs. There is a large garden to relax and a country pub within 3 minutes walk.

Lower Farm Holidays

Accommodation

With the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve just a short walk away the variety of birdlife is exceptional, and great variety can be seen straight from the window. The Stiperstones is the southernmost Red Grouse moor in the UK, Red Kite is often seen and heard circling overhead along with a smorgasbord including Hobby, Buzzard, Sparrow Hawk, Lapwing, Skylark, Curlew, Raven, Meadow Piper, Goldfinch, and Yellow Hammers. In the garden we often have Pied Woodpeckers in the winter and they can be heard through the year. Swifts, Swallows and Housemartins nest in the barn, wood store and under the car port, so beware where you park.

Blogs

I spy a bird

BLOG

I am Derek.. Married and live in Shropshire with my wife mandy… i am a member of Butterfly Conservation, RSPB and shropshire wildlife trust…

Jim Almond - Shropshire Birder

BLOG

I will try and keep up to date with pictures taken of birds in Shropshire and my trips out and about elsewhere.

Return of the Tattooed Birder

BLOG

Been very keen on wildlife since I was small. Started birding around 10, but stopped by the age of 17! Then, many years later I started up again… I have just taken 'a year out' from the birding scene, but am looking forward to getting back to it this year…

Sean Mercer - Whixall's Birder

BLOG

As I'm still young I have a lot of birding years left at 12 years old with a list of 165 birds. It's not much but I'm working on it especially in Whixall.

Other Links

CJ Wildbird Foods Ltd

Website

The CJ Wildbird Foods Ltd is based in Shropshire a few miles east of Shrewsbury and their site at has much useful information on bird feeding…

Wildlife Gardening with Jenny Steel

Website

Jenny Steel is a Plant Ecologist and Author who has been specialising in Wildlife Gardening for almost 30 years. She gives occasional talks around the UK and teaches workshops around the UK. Contact Jenny to find out more. She is also a Director of the Garden Bird Food company JUST ADD BIRDS

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Bill Nevett - Shropshire Freelance Photographer

Gallery

Living in Shropshire, watching the seasons come and go, a passion for photography and a love of wildlife. These are all the elements that went into the creation of this blog. The photographs cover the range of my work from Birds to Butterflies, Baptisms to Weddings, Industrial to Residential, Tourism to Corporate Events. 'When you are consumed by photography the passion can become all'…

Photographer - Jim Almond - Shropshire Birder

Gallery

Welcome to the home page for my world of birds, birding and bird photography. The culmination of a lifelong passion for nature and photography, birding has enabled me to combine the two hobbies to good effect.

Photographer - Paul King - Digital Wildlife Photography

Gallery