Saturday, 26 February 2011

Shrike Hunt

A trip down to the middle of the county this afternoon. A Great Grey Shrike is always a great bird to see and one in Bucks all the more special.
 So if was off to Hillesden, just south of Buckingham where the said bird had been found yesterday.
I parked by the Church and set off over the muddy fields in pursuit of my quarry. These birds are renowned for roaming over a large area and I didn't really know where I was looking. Neither it seems did several other birders, who were spread out over several fields, all failing to find the Shrike. In my wanderings around I did however see a bird that would have been ample consolation, a male Merlin that flew across the fields and shot off over the farm buildings. It was hardly surprising as there several flocks of small birds around including Linnets, Chaffinches, Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings.
 Thinking that I had dipped out, I started to make my way back to the car when I met Mike and Rose Collard and another couple who had some information from Warren Claydon who had seen the bird very recently.
 I decided to tag along with them and give it another go. I had just told Mike about my Merlin sighting, when amazingly I spotted another one across the field. This one swept around us and Mike and the other chap had  brief views of it , but unfortunately the girls missed it.
Mike had been told that there were some Mute Swans in a field and to look in their general direction for the Shrike. We eventually found the Swans, 24 of them feeding in a Kale field and scanned the hedgerows, hoping to see a distant dot on a faraway bush. Then Mike suddenly shouts I've got it, but he was looking behind us. There not a hundred yards away, was a splendid Great Grey Shrike posing on the side of the hedge. We enjoyed views of this superb bird sunning itself for probably 15 minutes or more before it decided to move off. I took this as my cue to leave and set off on the yomp back up the hill to the car. This was extremely tiring as my boots were twice the size with all the mud, by the time I got back to the top of the hill.

 As I was in the area I decided there was just time to nip up to nearby Calvert sailing Lake, to see if the Black-necked Grebe was still around. I parked up at the Charndon End, where I knew I could get good views over all the lake and easily located the Grebe on the far side where it kept the company of 5 Coots.
Not much else was on view here other than a few Wigeon ,Tufteds and Great-crested Grebes.

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