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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Quality local birding

all photos by Mark Stanley

I was informed this afternoon of the presence of a male Red-backed Shrike near Banstead (where I very nearly live) and made my way over there as soon as I could, catching a short lift from Phil Wallace. Here we met up with Mark Stanley and we all split up to search different areas of suitable habitat. Phil had to leave to go to a rehearsal and Mark and I re-checked one of the areas. I spotted something fly down briefly to the ground to catch a beetle and when it landed back in a bush, quite obscured I was certain I could see a dark face mask. We waited for the bird to change position and soon it flew down to catch another insect, revealing itself to be the male Red-backed Shrike. We watched the bird for going on for an hour, it really was fantastic seeing such a smart male Shrike just two miles from home and what's more it was a London tick.


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Last night (Wednesday 2nd) Kevin and I headed down to an undisclosed local site to get Nightjar for London. There is only a small number of breeding sites for Nightjar in the LNHS recording area and all are kept rather hush-hush. This was our third attempt and our second at the right place (the first time we were on completely the wrong site).

It was still very light and only about 8.30pm when I heard a brief churr (is that how you spell it?). We waited around the spot and sure enough it called more intensely as it grew closer to sunset. At about 8.50pm the Nightjar powered out of the scrub and flew right past us, giving us quite a shock! Satisfied with the very good but brief views, we headed back as it would take Kevin a long time to get home. Another good London tick.