Finding Shrikes

One impact of my, sometimes, obsessive twitching in the recent past was my neglect of my VC55 County list. Something I have come to regret, for a while I tried to pretend my Yorkshire list was more important well over 10 years after I left my homeland. I suppose I still do twitch on a regular basis and even had to twitch back from Cornwall the other day after twitching the American Bittern to add Grey Phalarope to my County list.

So after making a point of moving up the County listing rankings there are a few birds I now regret not chasing. The Shrikes are my favourite bird family, there’s just something about the ‘Butcher Birds’ that turns me on. Their feeding habits are marvellous if a little gruesome but over all, even in juvenile plumage I think they are stunning and Great Grey Shrike is just the best. I really do wish I’d made the effort to go for the Oakham bird but I wasn’t driving then and I was just too lazy. I did try for the 1998 Eyebrook Red-backed Shrike but I dipped it.

So where’s all this going? Well reviewing Great Grey Shrike in the avifauna – if you don’t have it by now, why not – I notice that historically most birds have been seen in the Charnwood Forest and Soar Valley areas. I fancy one on Barber’s Rough at Cossington Meadows but I reckon it’s too disturbed down there. So, how can I add Great Grey Shrike to my County list? Well I can wait for someone else to find one and twitch or I can get out there and find my own.

Therefore I’m going to give as many suitable areas as I can a thorough searching, as often as possible until I find one. There are at least three in the Peak District including a possible homeyeri and another two (or is it just one) regular birds in Nottinghamshire. There must be one out there somewhere and I’m determined to find it.


9 responses to “Finding Shrikes

  1. I’m sure Bradgate Park would get more Great Grey Shrikes if it wasn’t so over-run with people at weekends. I have seen one there though – it favoured one of the quieter areas, between Old John and the Newtown Linford car park. Another place I’ve always fancied for a shrike is Burrough Hill, but again it does get a bit busy at weekends.

  2. And another place which would be perfect (and quiet) is Charnwood Lodge. I don’t think it’s ever had one, which is strange, but then how many birders ever go there?

  3. thedrunkbirder

    All on my radar Andy, as are other tracts of the Charnwood Forest and NW Leicestershire. In the East I reckon all that area around Saltby and Buckminster has to be worth a look… is short it’s a nightmare task and I’ll never bloody find one!

    Burrough Hill would be an ideal place for a spring Red-backed Shrike or even a Woodchat. Woodchat has a good record of turning up inland… just not in VC55!

  4. Great idea John, very under watched areas is the way forward, maybe a look at the Vale of Belvoir is worth a punt?!

  5. Altar Stones/Blacksmiths Field in Markfield always struck me as quite possible. However, my money will be on Bagworth Heath. Any time you’re free and fancy giving it a go………..

  6. Matt Merritt

    I’ve been birding Charnwood Lodge, Blackbrook, High Sharpley and that area almost exclusively lately. I live in hope of finding a GGS up there – certainly plenty of good areas for them.

  7. thedrunkbirder

    I’m pleased that Charnwood/NW Leics. is getting some coverage. Were people thinking about the possibility of finding GGS? I reckon with a bit of effort we should be able to turn one up.

  8. The trouble with GGS is that they can turn up almost anywhere. Several Leics records have been in anonymous looking bits of farmland in the middle of nowhere!

  9. Steve Lister

    Being on 199 for my county year list I have GGS as a potential 200th and have been searching for the past three weeks. No luck obviously but successive visits to Charnwood Lodge I found 3 Waxwings and a Mealy Redpoll so checking these underwatched areas (actually CL is not that underwatched its just there’s never much there to report) does produce some surprises.

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