Friday, 21 October 2011

two failures.....

Yep thats right, two attempts at seeing the Great Grey Shrike(s) at Harrington Airfield and two failures.

First was on Tuesday in the hope of completing a hat trick of lifers in as many days. The shrike had been seen about an hour previous to my arrival but none of the other birders that I encountered (there were a fair few) had seen it. I did see a Merlin over the entrance upon my arrival and the large flock of Golden Plover (I counted 427) provided entertainment whenever they were put up into the air.

Harrington on a nice calm day (not really, it was horrendously windy)

Plovers innit.

I walked the line of bunkers (visible in the distance of the top image) a few times in the end but got bored with seeing no Shrikes so I gave in and stopped at Blueberry farm (cheers Paul!), Maidwell for a lookie on the way back. Didn't see any SEO but a Peregrine at least gave me something to look at when it drifted over gaining height and then proceeded to stoop at what must have been 6,000 miles per hour. At least. Unfortunately lost it as it broke the skyline so I didn't manage to see the conclusion of the stoop but it was still the best that happened whilst I was there.

Blueberry farm - quality SEO habbo

And now we move onto today.....

After the news yesterday that two Shrikes had been seen together at the airfield after a paucity of sightings since Tuesday I headed back over to Harrington before uni this morning. I got there at about 10.30 (damned snooze button....) which gave me a nice window of two hours to hopefully pick up one of the birds before I had to go and learn about conservation and stuff. My beginning tactic today involved pulling over at the Memorial layby in the hope of (albeit distantly) picking up one of the birds in flight because although you can walk through the scrub patch and thus be close to the birds the density of the habitat means you can rarely see more than twenty yards in front of you. And so I chose the lay-by in the hope of a better overall view of Shrike land. This cunning  plan seemed cunning too. A birder had seen one, maybe two birds from that very spot not twenty minutes beforehand......
"I'm in here", I thought.
No I wasn't. At least they'd turned off the wind machine today.
Within minutes of arrival a Short Eared Owl was quartering up and down through the scrub patch however which admittedly did cheer me up as recently I've been trying for my first this Autumn and shorties are one of, if not my favourite birds.
About a hour into my allotted time I became paranoid that the Shrike were still in the scrub patch around the bunkers but were on the wrong side of it to be seen from the lay-by so I decided to give in with Plan A and go to plan B - walk the bunkers. So I did, and saw precisely zero shrike. But a guy walking about 20 yards infront of me accidently put up the Short Eared Owl from the long grass close to the path and it gave brilliant views - even better for the guy infront of me, he could have reached out and touched it! And then I ran out of time. So had to leave. Doesn't seem like they've been sighted since though....a crack of dawn jobbie seems the most realistic prospect of seeing them at this point. We'll see how that goes!


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