'Twitching' the Great Grey Shrike & Haweswater's Golden Eagle - 9th August 2009

With all the other blogers having been up to see the Great Grey Shrike at Alston golf club car park we finally had time to make the journey ourselves. Mike had been up on Monday and it was showing well for the 3 hours he was there but we’d also heard from several sources someone had dipped it on Wednesday. Sources had also said it had been in the area since Easter so for it to have moved on would be very unlikely. So armed with directions and a photo of the valley it was showing we headed off to ‘twitch’ (there’s that word again Reece!) the Shrike.
We found the place easy enough and soon after we set up and had a look around a local came over for a chat. He confirmed what we had been told that the bird had been around for a while and there were plenty of birders there last weekend watching it. Well for the second time this year we missed out on a Shrike, not to worry I’m sure there’ll be another around soon, we’ll just have to get on it a little sooner next time.

Great Grey Shrike taken on 3rd August 2009 by Mike Foley

We did manage Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Rook and a Dunnock before we decided to head off.
After parking up at the car park at Haweswater we headed around the reservoir towards the viewpoint. Wheatear were showing very well mostly females and juvenile and a single female Redstart appeared on one of the bushes briefly.

The only thing we saw on the reservoir was a female Red Breasted Merganser. On the hike up to the viewpoint itself was a large flock of Meadow Pipit and there were several species showing amongst a small copse to the left of the path, but all we could ID was Chaffinch and Greenfinch. The light wasn’t in the best direction and from the photo’s we took the ID of the others are inconclusive. Well on to the viewpoint and our discussion was of the first words of the RSPB ranger ‘It was seen just five minutes ago’. Not this time though, the ranger had just spotted it before we arrived and a quick look through the scope showed it sat in a tree half way up the left side of the valley. It soon took to the air and flew up the right side of the valley to its peak, landing on occasions before taking to the air again. Not sure if the several Raven that were in the air around it were annoying it but it soon disappeared into the next valley. We hung around to see if it would reappear to no avail but did manage a herd of deer, possibly red but not 100% sure, further down the valley. All in all not a bad day even if we did miss the Shrike, Reece managed one of his must see birds with the Golden Eagle.

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