Wall Farm Nature Reserve, Shropshire - 4th November 2011

A call on Monday from Mike Foley prompted this trip down to Wall Farm near to Telford. A Steppe Grey Shrike had been reported from there (firstly identified as a Great Grey) and Mike managed to get down on Tuesday and as my work didn’t take me anywhere near I managed to take Friday off and take the 2 hour drive down to this small nature reserve. I must say I was a little worried as first as my trips to Shrikes have mostly proved fruitless over the years and as Bird Guides had reported the bird before 8.00 most of the week and it wasn’t until after 10.00 that it showed up on the report today. After parking up in the farmer’s field and dropping my £3.50 (all being donated to the British Legion) in the bucket I took the 10 minute walk down to the edge of the ploughed field from where the bird could be viewed.  It was quite distant at first, approximately 600m and though well out of range for photography it was easy to pick up with the scope. For the first 2 and a half hours it stayed at the bottom end of the field but stayed mainly in view occasionally dropping to the ground before returning to the hedgerow or to a high point on a bush or tree. Eventually it started to move closer and spent about half an hour around lunch time at about 400m where I was able to obtain a few record shots. I must admit with these or any other photos I’ve seen I’d struggle to distinguish it from the Great Grey Shrike and even looking in my reference books and the internet I’ve failed to gain any real knowledge about this species, a copy of Shrikes of the world is on its way. After about 4 hours I decided to head home happy that I’d added the Steppe to my Shrike list having only seen Great Grey and Brown I’ve still got a long way to go.
 Above the ploughed the Steppe Shrike could be viewed from, it didn't even make it down as far as the two large trees in the centre of the photograph.
 Above you can just make out the white wing pattern, much larger than on the Great Grey Shrike


Michael Foley said...

Glad you got it. It seems to have come about as close as it did when I was there (i.e. about half way down the field). That being so, the extra 100mm on your Sigma does make quite a difference in image size. Well done. Mike.

Derek Gallagher said...

Thanks Mike.
yes the extra reach of the sigma does have it's advantages though they might have been a little sharper if I'd remembered to turn IS off on the body after swapping lenses.