Having been out the night before to celebrate the end of exams I did not fancy an early start but thankfully today's trip did not require a ludicrously early start, and so I left the house at 10 to head up to Midhope Moor to see if I could finally life-tick Great Grey Shrike
Its a long bus journey, and a fair walk from the bus stop to the site, but I but made it for twelve. On the way up though the fun really started. Besides the shrike there were also 2 Juvenile Rough-Legged Buzzards in the area, but overnight the weather had taken a turn for the worse and the teeming rain made seeing them very unlikely. Having said that, as I passed a field along the edge of one of the resers on the way up a brown mass in a field caught my attention.
The moment I realised it was a bird, said bird took off and flew to the far side of the field. It was a big raptor, with white on the tail and white underwing with the exception of a large dark patch. Incredibly I had stumbled upon one of the RL Buzzards. It landed on a hay bale further away. I moved along the road to get a better view but despite my distance the bird took off again and enter a wood, where I lost it. Therefore sadly no photos, and only a brief view, but still an outstanding bird to see and a great record.
As I walked along the road to the watchpoint I saw an awful lot of Red Grouse, which is a yeartick. No sooner did I arrive on site than a car stopped next to me and the driver told me that the bird was just over the wall on a bush. I scrambled up and indeed it was, a little far away but still there. Through the scope I got great views and its just a little unfortunate that I could not photos to reflect this. I did not get to see it butcher any passerines, but apart from that I got to see the best of the bird, as it perched up high preening. Given this is Britains largest shrike I was still a little surprised by how small it was, not as big as I had imagined. In the end I got to watch the bird for around an hour before it must have flown down into the valley and I lost it.
-Great Grey Shrike
So thats lifer number 2 of 2015. A bird I have really needed to see for a long time and well worth the effort involved in getting to it. On the way back I also saw my first Jay of the year, and Goldeneye on Midhope reser and Great Crested Grebe on Underbank reser. A smashing days birding all round!!
Sadly the Rough-Legged Buzzard was deemed inconclusive on description by the SBSG, which is fair enough as the views I got were not the best. As a result, I chose to withdraw the record rather than persue it further, so it will go down on here as a Pale buzzard sp.
Underbank Reser: Mistle Thrush, Grey Heron, Robin, Blackbird, Bullfinch, Buzzard sp., Great Crested Grebe, Grey Wagtail, Cormorant, Mallard, Black-Headed Gull,
Midhope Watchpoint: Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Red Grouse, Bullfinch, Great Grey Shrike, Pheasant, Jackdaw, Mallard, Long-Tailed Tit, Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Goldcrest, Jay, Goldeneye, Carrion Crow,