Saturday, 19 September 2020

Brown Shrike and Greater Short-toed Lark

Yesterday whilst I was still dealing with the constant stream of images from Tiree news broke of a Brown Shrike "showing well" at Warham Greens in Norfolk to add to my stressing.

I dealt with the Tiree trip and couldn't justify it. I couldn't think of a way of getting there and back safely.

I could fly but that would be expensive and mean sitting on four planes and sleeping at Glasgow airport along with any drama associated with visiting the island and the reception that could be on offer for me there. I could take the ferry from Oban but that would require me driving eight hours alone (twice) as I haven't shared a car since March with my Dad's health more important than sharing the drive. I would then be on the ferry four hours each way and have to sleep on Tiree too. As much as I wanted to see the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher I couldn't justify the trip in any form but outside of the pandemic I'm pretty sure we'd have been making an adventure of the twitch.

Anyway putting that aside I now had the Shrike to worry about and it's a bogey bird for me so I really fancied dropping everything and heading up the A11. Problem was yesterday was my wifes birthday so I couldn't go and was left praying the bird stuck around another day for me and with this in mind I set off at 5am this morning. I pulled up at North Pools Wells and walked out to the sea wall turning right to walk a mile or so until I reached the field and found a few birders in their small social gatherings. I joined the general area and was delighted to be told the bird was still on site. 

I walked to the other end of the field to get the sun behind me as the others were all looking into bright sunlight. This option also allowed me to create my own social distance from the group and once in place I scoped back along the hedge to find a couple of Redstarts and then the target and my first Brown Shrike was at last in the scope. I enjoyed watching it for about four hours taking time to scope the marsh too where I spotted Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard along with lots of waders and the highlight was when a dark and light phase Arctic Skua flew across the marsh quite close in.  The Shrike showed well but remained quite distant and kept low dropping onto the floor to feed now and again. It kept close company with a Redstart.

Brown Shrike

Brown Shrike

I was going to pop along to Holkham or Wells Wood and search for more migrants but the place was so busy I decided to head for home only to notice a Greater Short-toed Lark reported in Surrey. I considered the journey but dismissed it and carried on down the A11/M11 and it wasn't until I got to my exit on the M25 that I had a change of heart and just kept going. An hour later I was watching my first ever Short-toed Lark feeding in the ploughed field with a few Skylarks. I watched it for about half an hour but it remained distant so I grabbed a quick record shot and headed for home satisfied with my two life ticks. With talk of a second wave or even a second lockdown I don't know when the next opportunity may come along for another tick so I'm very pleased to have bagged these two today.

Greater Short-toed Lark

Year list now 256
Life list now 417 BOU

Socially distanced from the small crowd and the Shrike

A small gathering of gatherings to enjoy the Shrike

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