Sunday, 30 October 2011

Great Grey Shrike

Had a report last night about a Great Grey Shrike seen west of Royston at Coombe Road. Apparently Ray Hooper had been told about it, saw it briefly but then lost it while getting the news out.
Arrived just after 0800 and found Simon Knot and Mike Illett-who had already spent a couple of hours here. They had not seen it, so I decided to head to Dead Mans Hill.
 There was a small flock of Fieldfare in the Hawthorns when I arrived, and across the road a large number of Starlings, Lapwing and a few Golden Plover were feeding. Had a few Linnets, Greenfinch and Larks, but not much else. A Red Kite hunting to the east never really got close enough to the camera.
 Drove down to Wallington, but the fields were quiet, though I did see a few larks and Corn Buntings. On a whim I decide to go back to Coombe Road just in case.
 Arrived just after nine and met Royston Dave and a friend, wound down the window to tell them the bad news, only to be told they were watching the Shrike! Unfortunately it was not in view, had been seen in a distant hedge a good 500 yards away. A wing barred bird flew out, I followed it in my scope and realised it was the Shrike, but I lost against the pale grass. Luckily Dave found it on a small bush and we had good if distant views as it hunted from the bush and the fence.

 More birders arrived and some were lucky to get on it before we lost it. Unfortunately  William Bishop and Bill Last didn't. However we did get four Crossbill go over which was a nice bonus. We kept on scanning the area while Bill went up to the top of the road, and eventually William's phone rang, though nothing came through. However it was clear that Bill had found it part of the hedge hidden from us.
 We all got decent views for around five minutes -it was around 250 yards away low down in a Hawthorn, then  flew out and perched before flying back down the hill. Before I eventually left it was back viewable from Coombe Road.

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