Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Great Grey Shrike

Monday and with no sign of a Great Grey Shrike in Sussex we decided to drive over the border to Thursley Common in Surrey. There have been regular reports of a bird there and with an area named Shrike Hill it sounded like a good starting point.

When we arrived it seemed very similar to the Sussex commons, mostly devoid of birdlife. There was very little flying with only Chaffinches seen and a Woodlark heard. We picked what seemed like a good observation point with decent cover and after about twenty minutes we got our first distant views. We then relocated seeking cover again and trying to stay below the skyline.

Distant view of Great Grey Shrike


Great Grey Shrikes are usually very visible, preferring to sit out on prominent perches where their white colour can be seen from a distance. It does, however, cover a large territory so seeing is easy but getting close enough for good pictures is difficult.

We managed a few shots but even though the ponds were frozen over there was a surprisingly high level of heat haze coming off the common which made focussing through the camera at a distance difficult. This year we seem to have missed out on those crisp cold February and March mornings, which give such good observation conditions.

Great Grey Shrike

Good record shots but should have been better


I usually complain about dog walkers spooking the birds but this time it was other birders wandering about and disturbing it. Better to sit and wait for it to come to you.

I suppose all bird photographers have the same approach. See the bird, get a record shot, get a better picture. We achieved the first two but the better picture will have to wait for another day.


Tuesday and the Red-breasted Goose was back on Farlington Marsh. Unfortunately I was over on Thorney Island looking for it in the wrong place. I did a complete circuit of the island and checked every goose I saw particularly the Brents. There were thousands of them on the island and on the surrounding mud flats and I was completely knackered by the time I got back to the car. I had already visited Warblington church and had an unsuccessful search for the Glossy Ibis so quiet a few miles covered carrying all the camera gear. Why did it have to choose today to change locations?

Kestrel over the Warblington Church turn off


Hidden benefits though, I missed the Red-breasted Goose but I did get year ticks in Whimbrel and Greenshank with nice pictures of the latter.

Whimbrel

Greenshank - Just inside the western security gate

Greenshank

And - a nice picture of a Sanderling on Ferring beach on the way home.

Sanderling


The exercise did me good but I need to see the RBG. The geese will all be leaving soon and it may not come back at the end of the year.


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