Time is a birders best friend and his worst enemy. The shift in balance in the time available to me to go birding this week as a result of our twins starting their pre-school nursery has nudged it more towards being a friend than an enemy. Instantly instead of snatching a couple of hours here and there and feeling dissatisfied with the outcome - trying to do too much in too little time and not doing any of it justice - I have instead switched to a more relaxed approach where I can indulge my whims with ample time and not feel that I've used the time badly.
So this morning where I might have felt some pressure to get to Harwood and follow up on 'Lucky' Andy's Great Grey Shrike instead I headed else where to some large areas of similar habitat I'd noticed during the summer to check whether they too might hold wintering GGS.
With the upland areas even more devoid of passerines than the coast I had little variety, the 'glip' of Common Crossbills was never too far away, though all were either in high conifers or flyovers. I came across several singing males today, all out of camera reach, in fact the female below was the only real opportunity to get any sort of image. Roving parties of Coal Tit were also obvious; the occasional sentinel -like Kestrel hunched and stationery. Several Common Buzzards including a couple that gave the impression of being paired off.
Sat on a high vantage with the road a distant mile back I was a little surprised to hear the an electronic double click for all the world like an audible car alarm being armed. Of course the culprit, or culprits in this case quickly revealed themselves as two Humvees of the corvid world soaring into view and proceeding to entertain me for the next ten minutes with some acrobatic display work involving rolls, flips a little precision landing and finally a stiff-winged flypast salute of my vantage.