Yesterday was our bird society’s annual bird count, where teams of people from the club have an enjoyable day out noting all the bird species they see between dawn and dusk, and ending up at a pub to compare notes, see who saw most, and have a nice meal.
My friends and I had a lovely time, with many changes to our planned route, but still totted up 60 species. Not the most by a long chalk. The weather clouded over late morning and it seemed to us that most birds had gone to roost as early as 2 pm. However we spent a little time looking in the area where a Great Grey Shrike had been reported on the bird networks, and followed the trail of birders from all over the region up a path to watch in a hedgerow in a field near Fakenham. And found our most experienced team of birders in the club already there and searching for it. After fifteen minutes, already twice as long as our timekeeper had allowed for us to look for it, we turned to come away, not quite emptyhanded as we had added a Green Woodpecker to our list (the only one we saw that day).
As we neared the bottom of the hill we scanned the hedge at the lower end of the field, and I saw a bird at the top of a dead oak. “What’s that bird?” I asked, as it was a bit too far away for me to see it. The others got their binoculars on it. “Yes, it’s the shrike!” they exclaimed, happily. Then we debated whether to tell our competitors about it. I waved at them, and they came down and set their telescopes on it, confirming a beautiful bird, which Tony let me see through the lens just before it flew down and we lost sight of it. Fabulous little chap, almost shiny in the light. Most pictures of it make it look smart but a dull grey when it is a really rich smart colour grey! I was so pleased to see it.
Oh, and Tony and his team won the day with 77 birds on their list, I think it was. But then, they know areas that the rest of us don’t reach!
Thank you to The Drunkbirder for the picture.