I spent much of today with wet feet. It may not have rained too much lately but out on the mosses and moors there is still plenty of water underfoot in certain areas. I seemed to do a lot of trudging around for not a great deal of reward this morning, a Stonechat here, year tick Red Grouse there, a whole bunch of singing Skylarks seemingly everywhere.
My first stop had produced little more than a few Crossbills and whilst it's always good to be out, the wetness seeping through my boots by mid-morning was mildly irritating. That feeling dissipated the instant I looked west beyond the crest of the hill over which the footpath I was on snaked away across the moors. The white blob atop one of the scattered pines escaping from the tightly packed plantation spread out in front of me 250m-300m away was instantly recognisable as a Great Grey Shrike.
I fixed the scope and wedged myself between two large rocks and spent the next thirty minutes watching as it gradually worked its way northwest. Unfortunately the bird was in an area that I can't make public but I gather the Prestwick Carr individual has returned for anyone that hasn't managed to catch up with a GGS yet this year.
Throughout the morning the dull metallic noise of the nearby exercises meant I never felt far from Mordor and the occasional pass by low-flying jets ensured my bowels were never full.
This afternoon I passed by Caistron on the Tosson road and counted 104 Oystercatchers, 8 Shelduck and 6 Gadwall. The River Coquet produced three Dippers, two just below Hepple and another just opposite the Healey turn south of Rothbury as I devoured a pasty from Rothbury Butchers.