Thursday, 16 October 2008

Essex Shrikes and the Bishopstone skulker vs the Young Ones

Raddes' a great bird but not worth jumping off the cliff for

As has become typical over the past 15 years or so there are 'expected' birds that appear in the autumn and those that you dream about turning up........generally they don't! As the years go by the dream lives on but the same old favourites keep appearing with that 'rare moment' of a five star rarity in Kent turning up, but not for long.
The spate of westerlies ending up being the 'Alder' of the day with an Alder Flycatcher, the first for Britain and Ireland making landfall, 'just' near Lands End. A hoped for visit to the far end of the UK last Friday didn't quite work out and instead I went to work as per usual. Friday night and scouring the Internet for gen for the weekend was brightened up with news of a Lesser Grey Shrike near Rettendon, South Essex. A visit on the Saturday ended up being a good day with stunning views of the Lesser Grey Shrike feeding alongside the busy road and nearby at Hanningfield distant but good views of a Velvet Scoter and a Black-necked Grebe. Whilst here I found out about a Great Grey Shrike just South of Braintree and within an hour I was on site enjoying this superb bird feeding at close range despite being lost and asking several locals including a 'village idiot' where Thistley Green was?
Sunday morning dawned misty and calm when suddenly a message from Derek Smith appeared on my mobile. RADDE'S AT BISHOPSTONE
Five minutes later I was hurtling down the A2 and 30+ minutes later at Bishopstone Glen where fortunately the Radde's Warbler made a couple of brief but close appearances allowing me to finally enjoy 'watching' a whole identifiable Radde's in Kent. This was my seventh attempt over the years but perseverance pays off in the end. It was a tricky bird to see and was seen very little later on despite much searching and attempting to listen for it's quiet call above the 'sounds of Bishopstone' with kids, dogs, walkers, cyclists and cliff climbers. Radde's is a good bird in the SE but the cliff climbing looked decidedly unsafe.
John Cantelo was evidently getting some hot news on birds or the announcement that Sats tests for 14 year olds had been scrapped.

The Lesser Grey Shrike in Essex
Great Grey Shrike in Essex
The crowd at the Lesser Grey with The Young Ones passing by on their way to see Cliff

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