Tuesday, 12 October 2010

No, seriously ...

Great Grey Shrike: at 1600 ISO with an exposure of 1/4th sec at f5.6
and handheld after running some distance, this was only ever going to
be an utter garbage record shot. In my defence, it was also nearly dusk.
... it's not your eyes. It really is a Great Grey Shrike, and it is also a desperately abysmal photo. But needs must - despite having been tipped off by Gaz about the bird's presence yesterday morning when I was still at home, a couple of appointments in Norfolk meant I couldn't try for it until nine hours and 280 miles later, when the sun had virtually set.

It was a break-neck drive in the London evening rush hour to make it to Wormwood Scrubs before the sky became pitch black, but I figured a predator like this might still be active at dusk - it's a good time to be on the lookout for a snack. And when it was almost too dark to be scoping distant hawthorns, this beauty suddenly popped up on one for a couple of seconds - just long enough for me to fire off two appalling handheld shots at 1/4th sec before it went to roost. It wasn't seen today, so it was worth the effort.

That I even found the right place was only down to my remote navigator Gaz checking Google Earth for satellite imagery of suitable habitat - good call (thanks also to Bob for his gen). Such is the value of the internet at times like this; perhaps it could also prove useful in the hunt for the probable White-tailed Eagle found by Ruth Barnes last week at Orsett Fen ('probable' does a disservice to her convincing description of what was surely an adult White-tailed Eagle). We looked for it again on Sunday but without joy, so instead of an impressive shot of a majestic raptor plunging talons-first into a flock of duck on a lake, I offer you this Northern Wheatear on a skip at Rainham Marshes on the same day. Say nothing.

Northern Wheatear at Rainham (you can tell the site by the habitat).
London year-list update:
202. Great Grey Shrike.

Meanwhile, in other news, the Azores is really hotting up - the first Lincoln's Sparrow for the Western Palearctic has been found today on Corvo, alongside two Indigo Buntings, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, two Baltimore Orioles and two Red-eyed Vireos (see Peter Alfrey's blog for the first images). Not to be outdone, the neighbouring island of Flores has hit back with Grey Catbird, Hermit Thrush, two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Upland Sandpiper and Great Blue Heron. On Saturday I'll be back in the islands leading this year's Birdwatch reader group, and in a week's time we'll be on Flores - it should be a good trip.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a prilgrimage you made and while it is a bit tiny and a bit off focus and well, a little distant, your memories and this little blink is all worthy of the effort. I must commend you for your tenacity, if I could be so free to do the same at times~

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