Sunday, February 18, 2007

The hunt for the Great Grey Shrike

Having arranged with Kevin Hughes on our way back from Norfolk last week to look for the recently found Great Grey Shrike near Perthcelyn I set off from home bright and early and met up with Kevin in Ferndale at 7.45am and by the time we had driven over Llanwonno to the site it was 8.00am.We were greeted by a crisp but sunny morning and there were already two cars parked up one of which we recognised as belonging to Martin Bevan who had told Kevin the night before that he was making an even earlier start!
Sadly Dan and Wayne were both unable to make it having prior family committments.
Tim pulled up just after us and the three of us walked the 1 mile or so out to the site.
Howard Oates greeted us and advised that Martin had gone to check another nearby clear felled area,Martin returned a little later with negative news.
The shrike was not showing but we were soon on to both male and female Crossbills feeding at the tops of pines the male looking particularly stiking in the winter sunshine,there were also Siskins feeding and the "buzzing" call of Redpolls were everywhere,when they kept still for a moment they gave superb scope views.

We were soon joined by Alan Hughes and shortly after by a lady birder from our neighbours in Gwent,Siskins and Redpolls came and went and Tim left at 10.00am as planned to get home to meet friends.

A pair of Bullfinches passing through the trees looked slendid in the bright sunlight.

Martin also disappeared to look for the elusive male Hen Harrier that had also been seen in the area (Martin had already seen the shrike not long after it was discovered) and the early sunshine also disappeared for a slight breeze to get up and a chill was felt by all.

Kevin who was on call with his work over the weekend received the dreaded phonecall and had to leave hoping to return later.

Our little gathering was further supplemented by the arrival of Paul and Diana Bowden with Mark Duttfield,it was beginning to feel like one of our GBC field trips!!

We were all starting to feel the cold and a great sense of frustration when at 11.15 after almost a 3 hour wait both myself and Alan spotted the shrike fly from behind us to the top of a nearby tree to our left,we raised the alarm and soon all the group were all enjoying splendid views as the shrike dropped and flitted from tree to tree.

I phoned Kevin who was making his way back to us and the bird moved in his direction enabling him to also get great views.

The shrike performed well for about 1/2 hour and Howard was particularly pleased with the sighting as it was a "lifer" for him,counting back I think it was my 5th in the UK with a few more seen on the continent and a "Southern Grey" variety of the species seen on Gran Canaria.
Lots of photos and video were taken which will no doubt turn up on the GBC website pages at some stage and with Common Buzzard,Kestrel and a pair of Ravens also passing over a great morning's birding was had by all.


Wayne said...

Nice report Jeff and well worth the wait by the sound of it.

Tim Hall said...

May try for the Parkend bird, having dipped this one twice.