Sunday, 3 February 2013

Great Grey Shrike, Therfield Heath

Undecided this morning on what to do and where to go.
At 8.30 it's decision time. So having done a bit of research on the location of the shrike at Therfield Heath and it only being thirty-seven miles from home, and having dipped it on the first attempt we decide to make another trip for it.
A couple of texts to Brian without response means it's just the two of us today.
Having had a couple of replies on the forums, we decide not to park along Mill lane but to take Briary Lane and park outside the pumping station.
Heading down the track we meet a dog walker who asks what we are looking for. Telling him it's a shrike and the size and colours of the bird. Shortly afterwards he thinks he has seen something similar fly from a nearby tree. But neither of us had got on it to confirm this.
We head further down the track and meet a birder from Ipswich. He's come in from Mill Lane and so far had no luck locating a shrike.
He does have some info about looking towards an old barn. The barn is quickly seen and a quick scan of the hedgerow to the left with his bins and BINGO! he's on the bird.
The winds are fierce and straight into our faces, making the eyes water and the scope shake. Not ideal for us but it has helped in locating the bird as it is taking shelter from the wind on our side of the hedge.
We decide to do the same and make our way to the back of the nearby hedges and use it as a windbreak.
A wise move as much better views are had of the shrike. The shrike gives excellent and prolonged views for the next twenty minutes or so. Then it takes flight and heads up along the next hedgerow and out of view.

From behind us, a Common Buzzard flies low across the field and lands in a nearby tree.
A second Buzzard is found perched on top of the hedgerow that the shrike had just flown towards.
Shortly afterwards the shrike is re-located in a distant tree, tucked in halfway up and out of the winds.
On the walk back we meet a nice couple who tell us they had just seen a shrike from the location that the dog walker thought he had seen it earlier. 
A short search of the area but no sign of the shrike this time.
We decide to do the same as the shrike and shelter from the winds and head for the car and home.

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