Great Grey Shrike

24th November 2011
I have been watching a Northern Grey Shrike for a couple of days on a very open area of moorland in the Brecon Beacons. This is a traditional site for these birds during most winters. This bird was, and still is, extremely elusive, flying away as soon as it sees anybody. These birds look conspicuous and with their habit of perching on the tops of bushes, you'd think they would be easy to find, however, in my experience they are very adept at disappearing. I watched it for a few hours, trying to establish a pattern to its behaviour and I could see it was favouring a particular Hawthorn tree. This was not its larder, just a good vantage point for it to look out from.
I decided the only way to get near it was from a hide so I got up at 06.00 this morning and drove to the site, using my usual MO, set the hide up in darkness and get undercover before daylight. It was very mild early on but within an hour a very cold wind had picked up. I thought I'd had a wasted journey because the hide began moving about in the wind and as these birds are very spooky I was afraid the noise and movement would frighten it away. I had to plant two feet on the corners of the hide to keep it steady, as I looked up the bird had landed on its favoured tree. I managed to get a few quick shots as it perched briefly in the wind, in two areas of the tree, then it was gone. The wind became even worse and the hide was almost blowing over so I called it a day by 09.00.
Please see UK Birds.