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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Great and the Lesser

For the first time in a while, a couple of very tempting rarities turned up over the weekend and got me moving. The more urgent of the two was the Great Snipe at Spurn so I headed up on Monday afternoon after a morning at the patch (which was fruitful for a hurried walk round, providing a Spotted Flycatcher, a Wheatear, the first Siskins of the autumn and a Yellow Wagtail) and arrived in the evening at the caravan site the bird had chosen as a feeding ground. I'd heard the bird was tame but what I saw was just insane, the GREAT SNIPE walking within centimetres of people's lenses and phones, and even walking between someone's legs at one point before crossing the road and going into a ditch as darkness fell! A top bird, and it was very disheartening to learn of its sad demise apparently at the paws of a cat this morning.

Great Snipe

As I'd left the trip till late in the day (thanks exclusively to my compulsion to miss as little patching time as possible), I didn't fancy driving back to Surrey that evening and I still had the shrike to see, so I figured it would be most logical to stay somewhere between Spurn and Sizewell overnight, wait on news and go to see the shrike in the morning before heading home. I found a lovely bed and breakfast on the outskirts of Cambridge and lay in till news came through on the pager late morning of the bird's continued presence. A couple of hours later I parked up and was watching the very freshly-plumaged LESSER GREY SHRIKE. While not as brash as a spring male, the more subtle plumage characteristics along with the structure of the bird made for educational viewing before a heavy shower saw the bird into cover and me back into the car, and back home after a roaring success of forty-eight hours' twitching!

Lesser Grey Shrike