Thursday, 15 October 2009

Staines Moor - Brown Shrike

The Staines Moor Brown Shrike has proved to be a 'few days staying twitchworthy mega' and having missed similar distant stayers this year, this one was not going to elude me. Whilst plan A was intended to be a Saturday visit, the unexpected chance of a day off coupled with a dread of the classic Friday night disappearing act, led to an impromptu plan B (Thursday!)

The news services had put the bird out as still showing, so with Andy plus Yvonne able to join in, we set off at 9.00am.... The omens didn't look good for a pleasant day out! Torrential rain, spray and motorway mayhem for the first 100 miles or so (a mere 3 Red Kites overhead on the M40) and then.....

Just like flicking a switch, once past Oxford the rain stopped, the cloud lifted, the sun came out and it was pleasant Summer t-shirt weather! The M25 behaved, then with parking on Hithermoor Road no problem (looking good now isn't it!!), we set off round the reservoir and emerged on the moor - quite a picturesque scene .....






Ahh, the peace and tranquillity.... Every two minutes this was shattered courtesy of Heathrow - just down the road!






Never mind the planes, we were onto the Shrike within the first five minutes! One of the most instantly noticeable features was the particularly dark mask. It proved to be an elusive little blighter though and was never closer than 80-100 metres and often out of view for 20 minutes or so.











A constant gallery of c40 birders (coming and going) were generally well behaved apart from a little bit of niggle when views were obscured but there was plenty of space to spread out. Local legend Franko was on site and certainly kept would be roamers / flushers in check from straying - "I'm not tellin' you again" - you just knew he meant it.....








Given the distance and elusive nature of the Shrike, I had to be pleased by actually getting some distant record shots and after nearly three hours, the bird posed in text book fashion displaying the short primary projection and rounded tail characteristic of Brown Shrike!






One helluva great day and bird - up there with any of this year's adventures.....

The return journey was fortunately uneventful apart from the Birmingham logjam but notched 25+ M40 Red Kites!

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