My efforts today - remember this bird was a good 220-250 yards away at least
THURSDAY 14 MARCH
After not being able to get there yesterday, when Lol, Bob, MJP and others succeeded in seeing the Great Grey Shrike in Bedfordshire, I thought today would be a doddle - especially considering the much better weather (little wind, clear and bright). How wrong could I have been?
Darin Stanley had got up bright and early and confirmed that the bird was still present east of the Swedish Cottages at STREATLEY at 0700 hours. It was still present two hours later when others visited but when a dogwalker marched up the hedgerow shortly later, the bird took flight and went off over the brow of the hill towards Lilley direction. MJP, Pip, Mike Campbell and perhaps 5 others searched in vain for the next two hours and gave up. I took up the task as they were leaving but despite wandering tracks in all points east, south and north, I too drew a complete blank.
Anyway, early afternoon came and went and I got talking to Tony Hukin about trips he had recently been on, and after he had confirmed the presence of at least 1 Wallcreeper in the Spanish Pyrenees but couldn't remember the site name, we agreed to meet up on the Barton Hill Farm road, where we would broaden our search for the shrike. This proved a very worthwhile gesture, as at the second spot we stopped - there it was - the GREAT GREY SHRIKE staring us in the face. It was actually in the same hedgerow as yesterday, but much closer to the old A6 - and how I hadn't seen it earlier from the other side, god only knows. Although it was constantly on the move, we both kept on it, but at 240 yards best, it was difficult to get a decent shot of any kind (see my efforts above). It remained on view long enough (22 minutes from 1315 hours) to enable Cliff Tack to get round from the usual track, but I then lost it and I don't know if the remaining souls searching relocated it again.
The shrike is favouring the hedgerows east and north of the Swedish Cottages at Streatley (located at TL 076 279), either that hedgerow immediately east of the cottages or that which runs parallel and best viewed from the layby at TL 075 282 or from Barton Hill Road at TL 082 285.