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Friday, 18 February 2011

Great Grey Shrike ...Harwood

14 February it started as a bright and sunny day so I decided to go up to Harwood Forest, taking the bike with me as it is a long walk in to the area favoured by the wintering Great Grey Shrike, just  turned along the track to Harwood village and the clouds started to move in parked out on the road in a small layby as there is no vehicle access either through or around the village , biking was a bit of a trek up hill especially with all my gear .
Stopped at the pull in area as you go down to Tutehill Moss, scanned the area for an hour or so then walked down to the bridge  a group of 8 Crossbills dropped in to the  Birch which was the only tree for 100yds so I got  a few shots off before they headed on their way, Crossbills by far the commonest bird of the day with loads going over  and singles sitting on tree tops, a couple of Buzzards over , single Sparrowhawk , Mistle Thrush , Song Thrush , GSW, Siskin.. It got greyer and greyer then the rain with a heavy shower so I had to head into the trees it did not bode well  2 1/5 hours with no sign of the Shrike, but shower over it got brighter  scope out again scanning around , after checking "things " that I thought could be it , eventually picked it out with the bins got the scope on it was only about a foot from the ground on the edge of the small trees , being someway off I decided to walk down the hill again packed the scope down but in the mean time the bird was gone , gave it another hour but no sign.

Crossbills Harwood forest Northumberland


Stewart said...

Brian them juvvy Crossbills are moulting out already! That must make them at least 6 weeks old and another two weeks as an egg. They must have been laid about Christmas time when the Harwood weather will have been something special...

Northumbrian Birding said...

Stewart, Very interesting observation as usual, it always amazes me just how early they start to breed, can't see the snow being a problem given their food source, also last year when the snow had gone vole runs where everywhere, which I assume helped the Tawny Owls another early nester !

abbey meadows said...

In October and November before the snow Male Crossbills were singing from the highest pines. Those Crossbill shots were worthy of the long bike ride in. I see the Shrike was elusive as ever but at least you managed to see it.

Northumbrian Birding said...

Thanks Nigel, the ride in was hard especially carrying scope, tripod, digi cam , Dslr + lens, case spare batteries, flask etc, and a clean hanky. The bird was all the better with the effort !!!