|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 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).|
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.