Monday, March 11, 2024

Great Grey Shrike

Nine years ago when I gave up working I went to see a Great Grey Shrike at Grimes Graves. It was easy to find, showed well, all round very nice. This, I thought, would be my new work-free life. Every winter I would pop up to the Brecks and get an easy-to -see long staying Shrike. Needless to say that was the last time I had a decent view of this species. 

Until Friday when I went with Mike and Dave to see the one north of Weeting. As is always the case now for such sightings, we parked where the cars were parked, followed the path and lined up with everyone else. It was easy to see on a tree, not too distant, with the 60x scope giving eye-piece filling views. As we watched, a Woodlark sang. Very nice.

Buoyed by our early success we headed for the Rustic Bunting near Swaffham. On arrival at this extremely popular twitch it soon became clear we were on a hiding to nothing. The bunting flock was deep in a Sunflower-filled corner of the field. Occasionally birds popped up into a hedge, and once a load of birds, maybe thirty, took to the air and then went back down into deep obscurity. We departed.

I think Birdguides should give a 'twitchability score'. Lesser Scaup at Abberton gets 5 - if you follow the instructions almost impossible to miss. But this bird should get a 1. Don't bother unless you are prepared to spend all day for a couple of minutes view in a hedge.

We went back to Lynford Arboretum. Such a nice easy site. Cappuccinos at the Shepherds Baa, Brambling at the tunnel, then unexpectedly at the bridge Crossbills. Great views as they came to drink. Such a wonderful thing to have these birds back. 

Further on we had Hawfinch in the big tree in the paddock, but could't connect with Firecrest. A bit cold, possibly. Just not a Firecrest sort of day. 

Apart from Firecrest the only Brecks speciality we haven't got recently is Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. And on that front we have excellent news! We no longer have to drive fifty miles and walk half a mile to spend hours not seeing them; thanks to some excellent work by a patch birder we have a site nearer to home where we can spend hours not seeing them. Progress indeed. 

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