Saturday, 29 November 2014

Great Grey Shrike at Roydon Common

Great Grey Shrike, Roydon Common
 I can remember the last Great Grey Shrike I saw at Roydon Common a few winters back. It was a crisp sunny day and we watched the Shrike catching Lizards. Today it was cold and grey when no 1 son (aged 5 1/2) and I parked up in a rutted car park, two thirds puddles to one third slippery orange mud. 

Fieldfares, Roydon Common
Heading south away from the car a flock of 50+ thrushes rose from a puddle in the middle of the path in front of us where they had been bathing and drinking. Their calls gave them away as mainly being Fieldfares with a few Redwings and Blackbirds thrown in. We paused for a moment and I set up the scope so that no 1 son could have a go at watching birds through it.

Great Grey Shrike, Roydon Common
The path veered round to the left and skirted the edge of the wet boggy heath. A quick scan of some distant saplings gave me my first view of the Great Grey Shrike.

After being passed by an old couple and their small rat like dog and I scanned again for the Shrike which has now crossed the path and is now perched on top of a bare tree on the crest of the hill to our right. From here it seems to be "flycatching" sallying forth into the heather at regular intervals before returning to the tree presumably not with a lizard in this cold weather.

One sally took the Shrike away over the low rise of the heather clad hill and into the top of another small tree. This time we were able to get a little closer and no1 son was able to get a look at his first Great Grey Shrike through my old Nikon ED Spotting Scope.

After a quick snack, we followed the Shrike back in the direction of the car park and left it perched in the same distant tree we'd seen it in earlier.

As we walked to the car park discussing how far we'd walked and the name of the Common and of the bird, a couple of elderly female birders paused to say hallo and point out to us the Thrush flock we'd seen earlier. Having exchanged pleasantries and ascertained that they were after "our" Shrike no 1 son left them with the wise parting advice that should not try to get too close to the Shrike in case they disturbed it.

Back at the car we get out of our wellies and try and zig zag a route out of the car parkaround th pot holes and back onto the tarmac.

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