Monday 22 February 2010

Shriking Out

It's owl season at the moment, so I am always going to be headed off to see some shorties whenever possible, though another bird had taken my fancy, a great grey shrike. It had been seen and photographed over at Morton Bagot, which is a speck on the map, the turn off for which I drive past every time the M40 is closed and I have to use the "old" roads to get home.

Arriving reasonably early on Saturday morning, I knew I was in the right place when I clocked Max's car on the verge, and sure enough, in the distance I could see the neon glow of his latest winter "camo" jacket, along with the trail of down leaking from it, along the path.

The shrike however, was even more distant and I glimpsed it via a kind fellow's scope, before it flew off. Opting to go for a walk down the path further and over the fields beyond, Max and I hoped the bird would oblige, but of course it didn't, and Max sensibly wandered back after a short while. Over the hill I got views of a deer bounding along and a distant buzzard. No sign of the shrike.

Then the phone rang. Max had got the shrike in a tree next to him. Argh!! It's hard enough to walk carrying the camera and tripod let alone run and needless to say by the time I did get back the bird had vanished again. Waiting around yielded no more results so I headed for the shorties at Cossington again.

What a crowd! Loads of my friends were already set up, and had been for some time. As usual, the owls made us all wait but showed just after 4pm, when 2 appeared, followed later by a third and a barn owl too. Unlike the previous encounter the owls remained more distant, but they're simply fabulous just to watch. I love the colour and intensity of their eyes. And that stare!

Sunday morning started with a text from a mate to inform me we'd had some more snow. For a change I swapped cars and took out the Scooby, which made me smile through the lanes, having to opposite lock at times when the back stepped out through some corners. Having failed to get a shot of the shrike, I tried again and managed some record shots this time when it landed on the top of a distant tree.

Nothing much to celebrate, especially having seen the shots Max had taken the day before, but still, another one for the collection.
With the snow melting, I headed north again and opted for a different location at Cossington. One which turned out to be out of bounds, when a Trust worker wandered over to tell us we weren't allowed away from the paths. Worth noting for anyone reading this!

However, the owls had appeared by then albeit later than the day before and I'd managed some more shots in the late afternoon sunshine. Also close by was a barn owl, and with a rather high ISO (1250!!) I managed a half decent shot as it ghosted by.

So, not a bad weekend really, though I have to add one extra note. The highlight of the weekend actually came within 2 miles of my house on Saturday morning, when through the mist as I drove along, I spotted a buzzard perched up near the Peacock Inn pub and for once, it didn't fly off when I parked nearby.

What awesome looking birds they are and I was rather chuffed to finally get some decent perched shots of one. Excellent.

1 comment:

Max Silverman said...

Pete.You were right the Buzzard shots are excellent.

Glad you got a shot of the Shrike and as usual your Owl pics are excellent.

I wondered how you found the Shrike field so easily.Now I know you followed the trail left by my leaking winter coat.