When I first got into bird photography, I would drive all over the country in search of species to photograph and add to my extensive galleries. In recent years though, partly from my choice in a career, and earning less money than I did when working in the IT sector, I have been less inclined to go see rare birds, unless they really "float my boat".
Readers of this blog will know that I love raptors and any predatory bird, so when I learned of a red backed shrike not that far from home, I thought I ought to get out to see it.
Having seen several great grey shrikes over the years, and one rather lovely woodchat shrike, this would be the second red backed shrike for me, but actually the first one seen in the UK. I found one in Lindos whilst holidaying there.
This individual has been spotted in Sutton Park, in an area alive with birds and insects, and it was on the latter that the shrike was feasting upon. I quickly located the shrike in a crab apple tree, but it wasn't the best spot for a photograph. Sure I took some, just in case it flew off never to be seen again, but I hoped it would follow the same behaviour of the other shrikes I'd observed before, and have a loop around the area where it would go to feed.
Then she left, and was seen around Norfolk. And most recently Lincolnshire. Whilst eating my breakfast I saw a report pop up on my phone from Bird Guides about the vulture being seen near Cowbit in Lincs, and I decided to see exactly where in Lincs it was. Then it dawned on me... I knew the area, having been there before for wildlife with my friend Ian. And it was only a two hour drive away...
Two hours, thirty minutes later I was driving towards where the sighting had been made, and I saw her. I was trying to get across a busy road, and I could see her flying with an unhappy band of corvids surrounding her. Most distracting when trying to drive!
Then she vanished into a small coppice. Having taken a number of images against a bright sky, I decided to walk along the road a bit, so as the sun would be behind me if and when she flew again.