Monday, October 29, 2007

Great Grey Shrike - Stocks Reservoir, Lancs - 28th Oct 2007.

I joined Councillor John F. Wright for a trip up to Stocks Reservoir late morning. First port of call was a check of Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn, which held c25 Tufted duck, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Goosander and small numbers of Gulls.

30 mins later we arrived at Champion Moor Flood where 21 Wigeon & 3 Teal were present.

It was whilst here that I received a phonecall from Margaret Breaks to say that She and husband Brian had located a Great Grey Shrike in the classic 'Shrike-field' opposite Dalehead Church adj to nearby Stocks reservoir.

Five minutes later we were onsite. The Shrike was perched prominantly against the skyline atop one of the isolated Hawthorns scattered around the field, but against the light.

We walked around the field edge up by the Island viewpoint where some excellent views were had of the Shrike in superb light revealing strongly patterned underparts indicative of first winter plumage - a new Great Grey Shrike to the area following on from an adult present in four of the past five winters, and a very welcome injection of 'new Shrike blood' at that, assuming it stays on to winter of course.
Above: 1stw Great Grey Shrike - Stocks Res, Lancs - 28th Oct 2007.
Shortly after the arrival of several local birders, the Shrike flew high and distantly NE over the Gisburn Forest, seemingly going down somewhere beyond the Cocklet Hill area. I've never seen a Shrike fly as high or distant ever!
Following the unexpected departure of the Shrike from this area we proceeded to the new hide overlooking the Hodder Inlet. Plenty of birds were present; mainly Teal & Wigeon, 30+ Cormorant and Lapwing in three figures. A small flock of Lesser Redpoll 'buzzed' over.
From the Vicarage garden, an apparent Tufted x Pochard hybrid could be seen roosting alongside Tufted Duck on the opposite bank.
Above: Apparent Tufted x Pochard hybrid - Stocks Res, Lancs - 28th Oct 2007.
We then decided to drive 'around the block', which involves a very scenic drive up over Bowland Knotts, then across to the Slaidburn-Bentham road and over Whitray Fell, Merrybent Hill and back down to Slaidburn. A couple of Stonechat were noted as well as a big female Peregrine on a fencepost, but only a single Common Buzzard. This fine male Hen Harrier was the obvious highlight as it quartered over moorland mid-pm.

Above: Male Hen Harrier - Bowland, Lancs - 28th Oct 2007.

Given how far the Shrike had flown, it was with some surprise when Gavin Thomas rang to say it had returned to the field by the church, so following on from a short refreshment stop at the Riverside Cafe in Slaidburn, we returned to the site only for the Shrike to disappear again moments before.
We gave it forty minutes, but with no further sign we decided to do the Gull roost at the Hodder inlet where a 2ndw Mediterranean Gull was located late on amongst several hundred Common Gull and lesser numbers of Black-headed, 29 Lesser Black-backed and 2 G.B.B. Gull.
Above: 2ndw Mediterranean Gull - Stocks Res, Lancs - 28th Oct 2007.
There ended a really enjoyable afternoons birding, interspersed with some enjoyable banter with fellow east lancs birders, amidst the stunning late autumnal scenery of Bowland.