Sunday, 18 October 2009

Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) - Staines Moor, Surrey. 15/10/09

Brown Shrike-Staines Moor

I decided to return to Staines Moor to have another look at the Brown Shrike, parking at Hithercroft Road(TQ040743) this time I soon met a couple who had travelled from Lincolnshire to see the Shrike and we set off together. We headed off along the footpath towards Staines Moor chatting as we went, they told me that they had distant views of the Flamborough Head bird in 2008 and I assured them that they would get better views of this bird with patience. As we headed in a South westerly direction along the footpath alongside the King George VI Reservoir a steady stream of birders passed us as they left the site, some suited and booted and no doubt on their lunch hours. We arrived at the small footbridge that takes you on to Staines Moor and were greeted with a handful of birders viewing the area west of the footbridge, when I had seen the Shrike on Monday it was further West of this position(TQ030735) but had now moved 100-200yrds east to (TQ033735).

The Shrike wasn't in view when we arrived and after taking position in a line of 20 or so birders we waited for it to appear. It didn't take too long although some of the first views were brief, everybody jostled for position eager to get a glimpse of this rare visitor as it perched at the top of the thickets and bushes in it's familiar pose. The Shrike kept moving from bush to bush and it wasn't always possible to see from every angle meaning a few people had to keep moving from end to end to see it. I'm sure we've all been in the position at some point where we're desperate to add a species to the list and as I had already seen the Shrike I decided to take a step back and let everybody get a their fill. I guessed at some point the numbers would drop and I'd get better views without the hustle and bustle, over time numbers dropped allowing everybody present to get comfortable views without too much movement and then the Shrike disappeared again.

The Shrike soon decided to sit in a thicket fairly low down and was just visible through a gap in the foliage, this created a small viewing angle which it could be viewed from. A few shuffles left and right and it could be seen sat quietly, preening a few times before flying in to the top of a Hawthorn bush where it sat intently viewing the ground below, a quick dart down to the ground and it then flew out of sight again. The Brown Shrike continued to feed and perch up amongst the thickets for the next hour, sometimes hiding out of view but returning within a few minutes and perching again in the tops of the bushes where it often sat for a couple of minutes, very similar to when I first saw it on Monday. A number of Ring-necked Parakeets passed overhead in a steady stream of 2's and 3's calling as they went which prompted me to ask my new acquaintances whether they had reached Lincolnshire yet, Richard told me that he had seen the occasional one but they certainly weren't a common sighting. A familiar face in Richard Crawford from Berkshire arrived and again the Brown Shrike showed well in it's familiar pose at the tops of the bushes giving everybody good views, it then became a little less showy often flying round the back of the bushes and sometimes hiding in the middle of the Hawthorn bushes. It appeared again and sporadically fed for an 30 minutes or so of before it was lost to view again, Richard and his wife where now happy that they'd had good views of the Brown Shrike, said they're goodbyes and headed off back to Lincolnshire.

As the afternoon ebbed away more and more birders departed leaving me on my own apart from a handful of people that were viewing from the footbridge, the Shrike showed on and off briefly before disappearing out of sight at 4pm ish, it definitely seemed most active between 3-4pm and during the afternoon caught at least 3 large Bumble Bees, a few Beetles and what looked to be a large Moth. By 4.45pm the Shrike hadn't reappeared and I decided to leave, as I left I passed a good number of arriving birders that had obviously got out of work early to see the Shrike and were heading to Staines Moor with haste.

I compiled another few video clips of the Brown Shrike which shows the primary projection fairly well in the second part of the video.

Location of the Staines Moor Brown Shrike
(You can zoom the map in & out by the right mouse button)

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