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All images © Peter Garrity

RUFOUS-TAILED SCRUB ROBIN

 19-10-2020 Stiffkey, Norfolk

After news broke on the Saturday and I saw social media posts from both Sat and Sunday of this extreme rarity I made the unusual decision to go on a proper twitch on Monday 19th (hopefully avoiding the crowds......not!). 

A 3.30am start from Sheffield found me at Stiffkey for 6.30am in the dark, although about 10 vehicles were there already, some stayed the previous night, the rest had just arrived. As light broke after 7am more people arrived but as the tide was still out most went onto the coastal marsh to where the bird had been seen the night before. After a chat with a few birders it was clear the bird had "come ashore" the previous night to roost and the tide was due in shortly after 8am. A number of us therefore stayed on the coastal footpath to look for the bird emerging from roost.

Time passed and extensive searches found nothing, I skirted the hedgerows and adjacent fields up until around 10.30am, then I decided to go back to the car for a coffee and a sandwich. As the tide has come in all birders were back on the coastal path, some with full wellies (can be a dangerous place). As I sat there contemplating returning back to Yorkshire for the Brown Shrike a shout went up, "Just seen the bird on a marshy island disturbed by a Little Egret!", there was a quick gathering looking out to sea......no further sign for 5 minutes until another shout - It appears the bird had come back to the coastline in to the edge of the stubble field at the side of the carpark. Within two or three minutes there we all were (many in face masks) lined up looking at the bird feeding in the edge game crop. We had unbelievable views of this superb bird - a truly fantastic experience. 

After around 40 minutes the bird became more elusive and I decided to go back for the Brown Shrike at Johnny Brown's Common - two new birds in one day......cracking.

Note the image thumbnails don't do them justice - these are super sharp - open in gallery view.
























BROWN SHRIKE

 19-10-2020 & 22-10-2020 Johnny Brown's Common, West Yorkshire

I made three visits to Johnny Brown's Common to see the Brown Shrike but in terms of photography only the first and last visits were a relative success.

On the first visit I arrived late afternoon on Monday 19th after driving around 7 hours return to Stiffkey in Norfolk for the Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin. The bird was feeding along a hedgerow for some time and well watched by circa 20 people. Most images and some video were taken from a significant distance in subdued light.

On my second visit the bird was sheltering from the wind on the opposite side of the hedge. It was however possible to see the bird over the hedge at certain points and although it was closer the bright sunlight backlit the bird. I waited for the occasional cloud to pass by to capture the best shots without too much over-exposure. (Murphy's law!). My first Brown Shrike though and a little gem it was.

19-10-2020






















22-10-2020


















RED-BACKED SHRIKE

 07-10-2020 Flamborough Head

A lovely autumn day for a visit to Flamborough - It was quite busy, mainly birders but the highlight was this juvenile Red-backed Shrike near the pillbox - It stayed at a fair distance in the brambles at the edge of the cliff. It was the first on UK mainland for me for a good few years!









HOOPOE

Collingham, West Yorkshire  05-10-2020

I made a morning visit to this location, arriving at dawn. I walked around the local streets hoping to see this long-staying bird but without success. I then moved on to the adjacent sports field where the bird had been seen feeding regularly. After about an hour and after a few more photographers/birders had arrived, the bird appeared in the centre of the field literally yards away. Here it stayed until I left around 11am.

I met a few friends including Paul Coombes and we had a bit of a chat whilst socially distancing - as the bird fed it often approached us very closely and I managed to capture a few decent shots and a short video. No-one pushed the bird unnecessarily and it was a good experience for everyone, including the bird. A great showy bird which didn't disappoint as it flexed its wings and threw grubs into air before swallowing.