Tuesday 25 October 2011
Great Grey Shrike at Harrington Airfield - 16th October 2011
Today I met up with a friend of mine, Pete Bateup, with the intention of looking for and hopefully finding the Ferruginous Duck that had been at Pitsford Reservoir for the last few weeks. Unfortunately the weather wasn't exactly being kind to us and although it was a beautiful clear sky the mist at dawn was so thick birding a body of water would have been a complete waste of time until it had lifted. So with this in mind me decided instead to head over to a local place called Harrington Airfield. This area had been used by the carpet bagger squadron during the war and was very nicely placed at the top of the highest ground around here - this consequently means of course it is a fantastic place to observe visible migration during the autumn. We were not to be disappointed either as no sooner had dawn broke we were watching scores of Redwing and Fieldfare flying overhead with Skylarks and the odd Meadow Pipit shooting over too. The surrounding fields were gradually filling up with flocks of Golden plover coming in from all directions to form a flock of at least 300 birds before we had done the circuit and as the mist was slowly lifting we made our way to Pitsford. Unfortunately despite a 2 hour search through hundreds or wildfowl in walgrave bay we couldn't locate the bird, so we did what Pete and I always like to do on a Sunday afternoons birding and went for a pint in a local pub. Upon leaving we were faced with a choice, we could head back to pitsford for the Gull roost or perhaps bird somwhere else - and as harrington had been so productive this morning we decided to head back there for the last part of the day. we arrived and had a slow stroll round, smaller flocks of Redwing were now coming over but Fieldfare numbers were still plentiful as flock after flock came over. There did seem to be more Skylark than this morning though and the Yellowhammer flocks are starting to get quite sizeable too. as we walked down passed the last bunker before we got to the road where we had parked I noticed a bird fly across the field and land in the top of a tree - I put my binoculars on it to see a Great Grey Shrike sitting right up in the gorgeous autumnal sunshine. This is typical! As I had only expected to have a wander round just to kill some time on a Sunday afternoon I had left my scope in the car so unfortunately I haven't got any pics of the bird to put on here but luckily there were enough daylight hours left to pit the word out to get some other birders here to see it. The bird was very mobile and as it made its was around the airfield complex a few other birders arrived and I'm pleased to say at least 7 other saw it before it flew down to a wood and despite a search until nightfall couldn't be located. As I write this over a week after the event it is still being reported so hopefully quite a lot of people have been able to see it by now. An unexpected self find during an after pint stroll on a chilly afternoon!