The Twitcher Diaries #2- Red-backed Shrike

The second in my Twitcher Diaries series again comes from Cley, only this time on the other side of the reserve. Over the last few days, a Red-backed Shrike had been reported from Walsey Hills, very close to Snipe’s Marsh. I get out of the car, and walk to where it was last seen the previous day, along a hedge at the back of the field immediately to the south of Snipe’s Marsh. I arrive, and start chatting to the couple there: they had not seen it that entire morning. Not to be outdone, I looked out towards the hedge, and something flies in: it was fairly large, with a rusty brown back & distinct white flashes to the tail. Could that possibly be the shrike? Unfortunately, it landed in the hedge not to be seen again despite searches through a scope. Frustrated, I made my way up towards the viewpoint, via two birders who were looking towards the hedge from the road, who said they hadn’t seen anything fly in for a while. Despite staring down the barrel of a dip, I dabbled into photographing the locals for a while.

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A newly-fledged Wren near his nest.
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One of the Greenfinches which were nesting nearby

Unfortunately, time was not on my side, and I decided to spend the rest of it between East Bank & Bishop’s Hide. The weather was overcast, and there was a distinct northerly wind. Grey Herons were flying around from what I assume is their breeding colony in the North Foreland, Sedge Warblers were singing from the reedbed & a lone Marsh Harrier hunted over the skies.

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A Grey Heron which flew out of the North Foreland as I was walking along

Eventually, I reached Bishop Hide, and I was greeted with a notice which said that it had been closed ten minutes beforehand! I didn’t resent it, especially as it was being loaned out to an education group. I was watching a Reed Bunting over near South Pool when the door to the hide mysteriously opened. It was a birder, and the hide had never been closed! Now very confused, I forget about it & walk into the hide. The pool water level was very high, so only the resident Avocets & Shelduck were on the scrape. There were also lots of Swifts flying low over the water looking for insects, and a Little Egret made a flyby in front of the hide. Otherwise, disturbingly quiet. Rather disappointed, I walked out of the hide onto the path (I did encounter the education group at the pond dipping by 11am. Surprised that the notice was up from 10:30!!) I then made my way to the East Bank, only pausing to listen to the singing Sedge Warblers along the path. Unfortunately, I only made it roughly 100m down the East Bank when I see my mum’s car in the car park: it’s time to go.

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A Reed Warbler which disguised itself (sort of) in the reeds

Another great trip, despite me not seeing what I came to see!

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