I was out this morning with GB, ML and DMcK, to do some proper birding for the first time in weeks.
We headed up to Harwood Forest, stopping at the layby opposite Winter’s Gibbet first. It was overcast with rain clouds on the horizon and as a result only 2 Buzzards were seen.
Small groups of Crossbill were flying around the plantation to our right and a pair landed on the gibbet itself.
Instead of waiting to see if more raptors appeared we went in search of the Great Grey Shrike, last seen on 2nd March.
We parked in the village and walked along the forest track until we reached Tutehill Moss, a few miles form the village. At the top of the clearfell there is an army look out post, we scanned for the Shrike from there.
The rainclouds which had been on the horizon soon caught up and it drizzled for the rest of our time in Harwood.
Whilst scanning below, more small groups of Crossbill and also Redpoll and Siskin flew over calling, apart from this the forest was quiet and Tutehill Moss was Shrikeless.
On our way back towards the village we stopped about half way along the track and took a short cut back across and area of clearfell surrounded by a young plantation.
As we got near a crossroads between the clearfell and the plantation at Fallowlees Burn, Graeme spotted the GS Shrike flying low to our left before landing on top of a tree in a small alder plantation.
The Shrike stayed perched at the top of the branch for around 10-15 minutes and looked like it was going to cough up a pellet at one point. After about five minutes of watching the so far silent Shrike, it started to sing, at first we thought it was another a crossbill or something but when watching it through the scope we could see its mouth opening at the same time.
I never though I would hear a Shrike sing and it sounded nothing like I had imagined.
First it sounded slightly like a warbler but kept adding mimicry and sounded like a wader then a bird of prey.
The lack of birds and poor weather until this point was frustrating but I was in need of a good walk after lazing around for most of the winter, so the Shrike was an added bonus to an excellent day.
On the way back we stopped at Arcot where 5 Pochard, 8- 10 Tufted Duck, a trilling Little Grebe, a drake Shoveler and a Muscovey Duck were all on the pond.
71 – Shoveler
72 – Little Grebe