Woodchat Shrike

It's funny how a day can flip on its head within seconds. I had just completed going through the moth trap (uneventful) and was daydreaming about my proposed uberpatch birding blitz planned for tomorrow when I checked my phone which had just blurted out a WhattsApp alert. 

Woodchat Shrike at Beddington! 

Now, I am not well known for dropping everything and heading hotfoot to the said rare bird, but a combination of this particular species and one of my old patches was too good to resist, especially since those kind Beddington Farmland Birding Group members had arranged for all-comers to gain entry behind the locked gates.

I was on site by 10.00hrs to be greeted at the Mile Road gate by the smiling face of the birds finder, Mark Bravery. He ushered the few gathered birders onto the inner footpath that ran between the North and South Lakes, and onwards for 200m to where the shrike was still present, on a bramble-choked western facing slope, tucked out of the stiff breeze. The bird behaved impeccably for 45-minutes, feeding well on caterpillars and perched out in the open for long periods of time. Up to 25 birders had gathered when the bird decided to go on a little tour of the immediate area, being lost from view for quite a while before being located once again. It was good to meet up with some old (and new) faces - among them Mark, Jake Everitt, Steve Thomas, Shaun Ferguson, Keith Miller and Ed Stubbs - all of who enjoyed the sunshine and this messenger from the Mediterranean. This was my second Woodchat for Surrey (the first 47 years ago this coming May) but, more importantly, an Uberpatch tick!


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