Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Shrike Dipping

Only just got round to writing about Sundays trip.
The surprise news on New Years Day was the Brown Shrike re-appearing at Staines Moor having gone missing during the cold spell. It showed for a while on Friday and Saturday, so Colin and I decided to go down on the Sunday and hope it would show.
The one major difference to Staines Moor from my last visit (apart from the freezing ground) was the large number of Parakeets in the area. Last time I met very few people who had seen any, as the big roost in the area had gone many years ago, yet on Sunday they were one of the most abundant species around. Unfortunately, the Shrike did not put in an appearance for us, and as I write has not been seen for four days now. We did see several Stonechat, and Fieldfares, Green Woodpeckers and Greenfinches, and one of the wintering Water Pipits flew over.

We eventually called a halt and moved of to Ash Ranges near Guildford which was the home of a wintering Great Grey Shrike. This very bleak area of heath holds a small population of Dartford Warbler, which had been severely knocked back by last winters freeze, but several pairs had been seen by others over the course of the morning, along with Crossbill flocks. After about an hour of searching, I found the Shrike in a small dip, unfortunately Colin was a long way off and did not hear me call. I tried to move closer, but lost it when a dog walker lost control of his dogs, and despite searching for a long time, we never found it again. We never found anything else either.
We ended up at Amwell, where a Bittern had been showing quite well, but I missed it. I did show Colin three Red Crested Pochards, a female Smew and a small flock of Siskin and Redpolls. Large areas of the main lake were iced up, allowing good views of the gull roost as it built up, but nothing unusual was located.

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