Sunday, 26 October 2014

Great Grey Shrike, a New Bird for Seasalter - shrike season!

Not knowing where to go to find anything this morning I thought, save the diesel and go to Seasalter again. The first intention was to park by the pumping station and walk along the beach and then the plots but getting my gear out of the boot I noticed a kingfisher flying down the dyke towards me on the plots. A change of tactics, do the plots first then the beach. 

{ For those who do not know what the 'plots' are, they are the Seasalter marshes, previously an old farm, which was bought up and sold into small 'camping and recreational' plots in the 60s.  Becoming a mess of rotting caravans and a blot on the landscape they were nearly all bought up over the years by the council, the remainder now under compulsory purchase orders. The RSPB have lately been overseeing the area but can't do much until they have complete control of the area.}

Walking along to the concrete bridge it seemed very quiet at first but after another few yards I saw a bird flying westwards about a quarter of a km away.  For some reason I readily recognised it to being a great grey shrike, the white wing flash and grey body, black tail and wings easily gave its ID away.  I prayed it would stop and land which it did in the top of a distant willow. I took a few shots which was hopeless considering the distance. I moved a little closer, still very distant and took a couple more to clinch the ID. Then after about twenty seconds it flew west towards the conifers where I lost it but managed a couple of distant flight shots.  The area has always looked good for shrikes but this one only stayed for a matter of seconds unlike Geoff's red-backed shrike by the YC which was watched for three days. However, two new shrikes to the site within a month was more than one could expect. I phoned Geoff who was close by but not close enough, seems I was the only one to see it!

Record shots, straight crops of 640 pix, very distant

Other birds seen were 4 stonechats, a male marsh harrier, 2 gadwall, mallard, 2 cetti's, skylarks, a snipe, goldfinches, one jay, reed bunting, kestrel, curlew, coots, swans etc.. Small parties of chaffinches were going overhead all morning as were larger flocks of starlings.  We went back to the beach 'seat' for coffee and ticked off dunlin, turnstones, ringed plovers, g.c.grebes, redshank, brent etc. then a short walk along the LNR seeing what appeared to be a small raptor sitting at the back of the fields which had its back to us but probably a merlin or sparrowhawk maybe even a peregrine as at one point it turned it head showing some white around its chin area but very distant. 


Marc Heath said...

Congratulations Mike, a great find. It seems Reculver has a block on birds at the moment. Perhaps your Shrike will pass through tomorrow!

Kentish Snapper said...

Nice find Mike.