Wednesday, 26 August 2009

On The Trail....

After bringing the story on the (alleged) breeding of Great Grey Shrike into the sharp glare of the birding world and reading some of the scepticism that's blowing around as a result of the observer/finder's past record I resolved to do a little more digging. Having spoken to both county recorders Tim Dean (Northumberland)& Colin Raven (Cumbria) neither were able to add anything to the information available. So I took the bull by the horns yesterday, tracked down the address of the 70 year old 'independent naturalist' that had supplied the Hexham Courant with their story and drove the sixty odd miles to talk to him and establish if there is any evidence, photographic or other. The pleasant journey to Garrigil gave me plenty of time to think about how I might approach this and perhaps try and persuade him to show me the nest site, thinking that if there were no images maybe some material could be recovered from the nest if it exists that could be used for DNA analysis.
With no telephone or email I was turning up unannounced and of course Sod's Law kicked in, he was out, it remains to be seen whether my note through the door will yield results.
So I had to make do with a slow journey back picking up a few birds on the way. Being August the roads and hedgerows are awash with released Pheasant, running willy nilly and peering out from every patch of nettles.

From the Kingswood Burn down to Ridley Hall evidence of large releases of Red-legged Partridge with several roadside parties and others lounging on nearby stone walls nonchalantly unaware of their likely fate.

Several Red Grouse on Ouston Fell & Coanwood Common including one dozy bird that narrowly avoided the front wheels, sadly no sign of Black Grouse. I did find a family of Spotted Flycatcher
in a small corner of the golf course between Garrigil & Alston that fed low in a sheltered spot behind some Rowan to avoid the wind.

This morning dawned bright but the dark grey skies quickly dampened spirits. A short seawatch from Newbiggin failed to produce anything more productive than a Red-throated Diver and a single Manx Shearwater south. As the rain increased I walked the Ash Lagoon bank hoping for migrants but eight Stonechat and a Swallow following me very close to catch any disturbed insects were my scant reward for the effort.
I ended the morning counting Redshank at the North Blyth roost (338) and taking juvenile gull pictures in the rain. Life goes on.


Joel said...

I like the pictures except to much to read for me it would take me a very long time I will try and read it tonight or tommorow

Joel Tilmouth

Anonymous said...

Keep up the detective work Alan. I'm on a tenterhook! Breeding GG Shrike would be a fantastic record. I was sceptical when it said nests in trees but apparently that's where the nest so, who knows...