Posts Tagged ‘Great Grey Shrike


Great Grey

Shrikes are always good value. This Great Grey was in the Brecks earlier this month.




Some excellent bird tours in February. Around 6 trips into the Brecks and almost as many into the Broads. The tour on the day of storm Doris was a challenge to say the least, but we still managed a few things of interest. Here’s a compendium of photos of just a few birds we came across during the month.

bewicks-swan crane glaucous-gull goshawk great-grey-shrike hawfinch iceland-gull lesser-spotted-woodpecker mediterranean-gullrough-legged-buzzardsiskinsnow-buntingwaxwingwoodlark




Given the invasive numbers of Yellow browed Warblers that were turning up further north and given I’d already found three here on the hill last week not but 800m from Falcon Cottage; I wasn’t in the least bit surprised when one started calling from the garden on Saturday. It or probably another brighter individual is still here today.

I wasn’t even surprised when yesterday a Lapland Bunting flew over the house; and I certainly expected the sixty or so Blackbirds, Redpolls, Siskins and Swallows that were using the garden as a staging post on their way south. What I wasn’t expecting however was what I flushed from a bush across the field.

When dawn broke I went for my usual walk locally. The mist was transient and at times quite thick as it overpowered the sun which was desperately trying to burn it off. I checked the far corner of the field and had given up on finding anything of true note when I noticed around 50 Blue Tits on the wires above the large hawthorn. They weren’t happy. I expected to raise my bins and see one of the two local Kestrels tolerating some incessant mobbing. Instead a Grey Shrike bolted from its perch over my head and landed way distant. Detail lost in the mist. From what I saw I’m pretty sure it was a Great Grey Shrike and not something rarer. Surprising yes! Given I’d not heard of any others this autumn throughout the whole of the country; although one at Horsey around the coast made landfall later the same day.

Yellow browed Warbler



Everywhere but nowhere

I must type up that report.

My morning walk around the hill found just a single Yellow browed Warbler. Throughout Norfolk rare birds were being found all over … the best of which was a Red flanked Bluetail. I cracked. The report would have to wait.

On arrival at the Bluetail I saw it for 20 seconds and it promptly disappeared for an hour. Behaving very un-Bluetail like, taking jaunts in among the canopy rather than seeking low level perches, it proved extremely elusive. Even the nearby Long eared Owl played peek-a-boo from the hedgerow and a Great Grey Shrike with its mobbing entourage was always distant never near.

The following day I tried again but the Bluetail had moved on, as expectedly had the Long eared Owl. At nearby Wells the previous days Radde’s Warbler showed once and then took to ground. The only sighting of the accompanying Olive backed Pipit I got was as it vaporised over my shoulder at the speed of light.

It was only as I viewed my fourth Yellow browed Warbler of the day did a bird show on the right side of all the intervening vegetation.

Time to type up that report.

Red flanked Bluetail_Z5A8110

Great Grey Shrike_Z5A8355

Long eared Owl_Z5A8181

Yellow browed Warbler_Z5A8462a




A grey day made great (twice over)

As I was driving home at the weekend a flash of something above and to my right caught my attention. I pulled up to see a bird fly into some distant trees.

I didn’t see it clearly but the contrast of black and white was instantly familiar. It could only have been a Grey Shrike. It took a little while but it eventually reappeared. It was a Great Grey Shrike.

Finding a perch free of the wind it fed on wasps and flies hovering around flowering ivy; one of many Great Grey Shrikes to make landfall on the east coast recently.

Postscript: While I was having my breakfast yesterday a Great Grey Shrike dropped into the Garden here at Falcon Cottage. With an entourage of mobbing Bramblings it didn’t stay long… but just long enough to get itself onto my garden list!


2013 10 13 Great Grey Shrike Sidestrand Norfolk_Z5A4939


Making a Point

It’s not often that tides and weather coincide to give an ideal opportunity but last Saturday they did.

Blakeney Point pokes a finger of shingle into the southern North Sea and picks up migrant birds as they make landfall in Autumn. Getting to the point is a long four mile walk, nay SLOG, on a shifting surface; and then there’s the four mile slog back.

Tides meant that it was possible just the once in October to catch the boat out, land on the point and walk back thereby halving the uncomfortable walk. Such favourable tides don’t always coincide with a high pressure over Scandinavia, a north easterly wind and an occulting front giving ideal fall conditions for migrant birds. This last Saturday the planets aligned for us and the weather forecast looked good to give it a go.

Andy and I disembarked onto the point having already had good views of Long tailed Duck, a pair of Mergansers and both species of Seal on the way out.

Thrushes were flying overhead in bright sunshine. This wasn’t the weather we wanted. We wanted rain to drop the migrants. Still, we flushed an eared Owl that promptly vanished before yielding its name, Ring Ousels chacked away and hopped around the turf, a Lapland Bunting and a flock of Snow Buntings flew south. In the plantation a Brambling buzzed at us and a mixed flock of Goldcrest, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were joined by a Willow Warbler and a Yellow Browed.

A Redstart flicked among the Sueda and a Black Redstart or two hopped from high point to high Point. A Redpoll bush hopped while others flew overhead.

Andy detonated a Woodcock from his feet and another flew in off the sea followed by a Snipe.

It started to rain during our walk back.

A Goosander punctuated flocks of Wigeon and Redwings shrouded the shingle. A roaming flock of Goldcrests, their shining crowns glowing in the dullness of the afternoon, never revealed the Pallas’ Warbler they promised but a great Grey Shrike appearing from nowhere halted us in our stride as it posed for photographs.

Of all the birds on the point however it was the Robins that stole the show. Continental Robins with orange breasts and grey bellies. Perched on every post and bush they flycatched and fed, ravenous after their journey across the sea.

There is nothing to match migration in action especially when it’s a spectacle shared with good company.

Great Grey Shrike


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Jun 2023


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