Sunday, 16 November 2008

Steppe 'n out of County

Hey up, it was about time I twitched again. With the year fizzling out and seemingly 'stuck' on 243 against my targeted 250 for the UK year list, I needed a new bird (or seven!) over the next six weeks

An 'Andes' trip was hatched up late saturday night with Andy L (Shrops) and Andy B (Staffs). Hopefully, the Grainthorpe Haven Steppe Grey Shrike was going to receive somewhat overdue attention!

The omens looked good as we arrived in the area with a Short-eared Owl hunting near the road side by North Coates (guess what, I needed that too!!). After a few fun and games locating the closest parking spot (down Keyholme Lane if you haven't been), we were in!

It was "showing under your feet" everyone reminded us, as we left the car park. When we got to the favoured 'spot', 'oh no it wasn't' - it had decided to fly to a Hawthorn bush, directly into the light against milky white sky some 60 metres distant - just my luck!! Surely I would get better pictures than this??

Of course, this little beauty is a 'performer' and it wasn't long before it flew to the favoured vantage point (which way home?)....

The vantage point became a launch pad towards a earthworm or two and these were duly consumed literally inches from the watching gallery. To the uninitiated, this might look intimidating, this bird was and is totally at ease with human presence!

This 'twitch' has fermented lots of 'anti photographer' feeling on birdforum. Nothing new of course and the odd 'rogue' chaser/trampler obviously deserves all they get! Give them a kicking/shaming from me too! Look at the pictures below though, these birders aren't chasing the bird, just as the majority of photographers don't - no-one moved!

A couple more close ups of this little cracker . Whilst I took most of these with the 500mm, a long lens is not the kit of choice for this bird - a wide angle lens or mobile phone plus a bit a patience would do!!

There was more work to do. Heading North, the option of Pied Wheatear (as yet not seen that day) had now been ruled out? The Two-barred Crossbill had put in an appearance though - this was our next objective......