I was just arriving at Seaford when an alert came up for a Red-backed Shrike on the Cuckmere, just south of the Visitors Centre. It was only a few minutes away and too good a chance to miss, although it sounded as though it was on the main route down to the beach, so would soon be busy with day trippers.
I arrived at the car park and hurried down the track but it was just as I feared. I could see three or four people with their scopes and cameras pointed at a tree and even at a distance could see the bird perched out on the top. Sounds promising, but there was also a family, complete with a couple of dogs and kids kicking footballs, just about to walk between the observers and the bird - and they did. Inconsiderate or what? The bird was flushed from a perch giving clear views and with good light to a barbed wire fence where it was part concealed by the long grass.
I took a few record shots that I knew would be poor but then the bird flew off and it looked as though I had missed the chance. I searched for about an hour but then gave up and was walking back to the car when there it was, sitting in the original tree and this time completely ignoring all the people walking past. Better still it was a male in full colour plumage.
|Breast pinkish or light brown tinge dependant on lighting|
|Crown blue grey and back reddish brown|
|In hunting mode|
|Common Blue - nice butterfly but the wrong colour|