09
Jun
19

Shrike a light

Why would I need a scope? This was a mammal tour and we were going to walk down the dunes and look at some seals. Absolutely no need for a scope and tripod. Why on earth would I bother to cart it all the way down to the seals?

Each spring I run a mammal day in Norfolk. We start at around midday and finish close to midnight. It’s normal to get a dozen or so mammals on the list sometimes more, sometimes less. On the walk down to the seals we had the weather to our backs and to be fair it had improved from the persistent rain of the last couple of hours but the wind was gathering speed. I was scanning the hedgerows and fence lines to see if I could pick up on a Water Deer sheltering from the wind, when a flash of white caught my eye. It was a distant shrike sat on the fence. It was seemingly feeding constantly; dipping down to the ground then returning to the fence. I could make out through bins that it had a black forehead and a rose tinted breast. Time of the year told me it was more likely to be a Lesser Grey Shrike than anything else but I had heard an unseasonal Great Grey Shrike was in Cambridgeshire. I really needed my scope to get a closer look. …Ooops!

I put the word out, with a cautionary caveat, to a few local birders and friends as well as RBA (Rare Bird Alert). This was the only potential Lesser Grey in the UK at the moment and I didn’t want to state it categorically was a Lesser Grey without a closer look. I fired off a few distant record shots and tore myself away to take my guests down to the beach to photograph the Grey Seals.

It was as we were stood on the beach I took a look at the photos on the back of the camera and realised it was undoubtedly a Lesser Grey.

As we returned to the dunes the first local birders were arriving and I told them where it had been but said by now it was probably sheltering from the wind in the bushes … which on examination it was.

A nice bit of icing on the day which we finished at around 10pm with a couple of adult badgers along with two rather large cubs.

 


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