Monday 21 February 2011

Great Grey Dawn

On 14 February 1986 I saw my first and only York-area Great Grey Shrike in a snowstorm next to the River Derwent at Wheldrake Ings. I have dipped a few more around York subsequently, including a bird that wintered near Fulford Ings that eluded me several times.

So, getting a text from Russell late afternoon yesterday about a GGS at North Duffield Carrs prompted an early start today. I was down at the NDC car park for 6.45am, though it was still very murky, the low cloud and pending drizzle not helping. As the light improved, there was sadly no sign of the shrike along the hedge between the two hides or in the bushes round the scrape. Alan and Russell turned up to join the search but to no avail. At 8am I decided it was time to head for work, having enjoyed c70 Whooper Swans, a Barn Owl and some banter.
I checked the hedges towards Bubwith then headed home.

I got just passed North Duffield village and the phone rang. It was Alan saying the shrike was back. Cue a quick manoeuvre on a farm track and I was heading back east towards Bubwith. I scampered down to the hide with Andy who had seen the bird yesterday and to our collective delight, there was the smart bird atop a bush on the edge of the scrape. Totally cool bird as always, sitting like a sentinel atop the bushes, scanning for victims. After a few minutes it headed into the depths of a hawthorne at the back of the scrape and disappeared from view, possibly to lurk in ambush for some hapless Reed Bunting. A few shaky shots were gleaned in poor light and with a barely-working camera. My first York pre-work twitch a fine success!

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