Monday, 17 November 2014

Isabelline Shrike Hengistbury Head - 14th November 2014

News broke of an Isabelline Shrike yesterday afternoon at Hengistbury Head but I was committed to an afternoon at Beaulieu Motor Museum with Sarah and Tobias so I hatched a plan to get up early and get home before another planned social event at midday. I awoke once more to heavy rain but decided that a  British tick 30 minutes down the road was too much of a temptation to blow-out. I arrived on site in the wet gloom at 07:30 and almost immediately bumped into a female Black Redstart at the Hikers Cafe. I headed out to the area of Wick Fields where the bird had been seen yesterday and joined the 10 or 15 birders present. My first views of the bird were frustrating with glimpses of a pallid head and lightly chevroned flanks through the bushes as the bird appeared to have just emerged from its roost. After standing in the rain for a further 30 minutes chatting to an old friend and colleague Jeff Picksley the bird made a break for it northwards along the hedge line so I relocated from the east to the west side of the hedgerow hoping the bird would hop up into slightly better light. After 15 minutes or so it appeared and sat low on the hedgerow shaking off the rain - it was a miserable wet morning and the British weather must have been a bit of a shock to its system, it certainly was for mine. I got a few snaps of it before it disappeared once more. Rarer still was the site of a great friend Andy Butler from the Isle of Wight accompanied by mega year lister and Island birder Pete Cambell. Andy has not birded off the island for 20 years while Pete is well on his way to 300 species for the year. We enjoyed a bit of banter before I had to head off for another social event, I felt a few glasses were deserved even though I wanted to stay in the field.