Sunday, 20 March 2016

Beaulieu Road Station, New Forest - 18th March

I have had little success with the regular Beaulieu Road Station/Pig Bush area Great Grey Shrike this winter with a least three unsuccessful attempts. This despite many reports of the bird showing well often to the east of the railway line. So, it was pleasing that with an hour to spare before a bird survey I ran into the bird fairly quickly on 18th March at Bishop's Dyke. The bird was conspicuous perching atop a very tall Silver Birch and as I approached I realised that the bird was in full song and therefore presumably a male. At a distance I heard a very harsh grating call from the bird, identical to this call here, which appears to be an alarm call. At closer range the song could be heard and was very similar to the form of the song that can be heard here, this is often described as an early season/pre-breeding song. I watched the bird for at least 15 minutes before it headed north across the heathland and as I walked back towards the car a little later the bird had travelled almost as far as Denny Wood and was now perching on low bushes and clearly in hunting mode.

Great Grey Shrike in song, note the small tooth near the bill tip - Bishop's Dyke

Great Grey Shrike - Bishops Dyke

Great Grey Shrike in song - Bishops Dyke

Also at the Shatterford/Bishops Dyke area were six Stonechat, four Siskin, two Redpoll and seven Crossbill while Curlew bubbled from the bogs and Lapwing displayed overhead.

Male Stonechat - Shatterford