3rd for Britain – Kilnsea, Spurn, East Yorkshire
The previous records were:
• Isles of Scilly on 1st November 2006
• Fife, Scotland on 29th October to 14th November 2004.
The alarm went off at 6.30am and I felt wrecked with tiredness. I just couldn't get up, I HAD to carry on sleeping. At some point later my phone rang and I was alarmed to see it was John Furse.... what had he found?, not good when I wasn't even up – 'did you know there is a Masked Shrike at Spurn?'...... 'No I didn't John, thank you'. Immediately phoned Andy W. as he and Justin nearly always twitch megas and Justin promptly answered Andy's phone.... 'Are you going for the Masked Shrike?' I asked. 'Funny that' says Justin, 'we are discussing that right now.... we are in Burnham Market and were just off to Burnham Overy and we've got football in the afternoon (Norwich). I'll ring you back in a minute....' I didn't need to wait for the confirmation call as I knew they would be going, so I shot into the shower, was going to wash my hair, but knew I didn't have time (it did need washing!). Justin rings back, 'see you in 30 minutes' Arrggghhhhhh!!!! 30 minutes, 30 minutes, oh dear! Panic, Panic!!! Flew downstairs, still feeling exhausted. Luckily I made a couple of sandwiches last night. Made flask. Bundled stuff I needed for the day into bags, bins, scope, tripod, camera gear, coat, pager, phone, ready! I was quite impressed with my 30 minutes get ready from being asleep to standing out on the street ready and waiting for them when they turned up!
We left King's Lynn at 10.30am. I don't normally get travel sick when Justin or Andy drive, but today I felt like death, much worse than I let on. I was very close to being very ill (don't need to go into detail!) and could hardly move my head at all. I'm guessing it was due to tiredness and then the mad rush to get ready. Justin had already seen a Masked Shrike at Fife, but was happy to see a second bird with Andy who had never seen one. There was no news on the shrike after 10.30am and still none by 12.24pm, so Justin phoned RBA to put out a 'no news' message and a message then bleeped up on the pager at 12.30pm to say it was still showing at 12.26pm! Works every time, putting a 'no news' message out! Arrived at Spurn at 1.30pm.
Kilnsea, Spurn, East Yorkshire.
Blink and the video will be over – very short, but my only video footage achieved!
Birders enjoying the Mega Masked Shrike.We genuinely couldn't find the suggested carpark that we were supposed to park in and so parked along the road, along with loads of other cars. It was a fairly wide road and traffic was able to freely drive along, so we couldn't see a problem. We soon found out where to view the shrike from and luckily the MASKED SHRIKE was immediately in view, sitting on a fence wire distantly, across the far side of a field at 1.42pm! Wow, what a cracking bird, so exciting to watch this mega bird and a lifer for me. Eventually it moved forward and along the hedgerow to our right hand side, edging closer and closer. As is usual at twitches, a photographer decided it would be ok to stand in front of me and proceeded to get shots when the bird was at it closest. Two people then left who had been kneeling at the front, right next to the fence, so I asked Andy to look after my bag and scope and nipped up to kneel by the fence line. I really wish I had been here earlier as my pictures would have been considerably closer and sharper. I ended up stuck here and couldn't get my scope to do any phone scoping. I did manage a rubbish video when I was stood further back though. Justin and Andy left to go and look at other birds, leaving me to attempt to get some good pictures of this stunning bird. The shrike never came that close again sadly. Wonderful to watch this bird flying about feeding – it has such a long tail! Magical bird. It was kept company by 2 Redstarts in the hedge, a Magpie and a Kestrel hovered overhead briefly. Later on a Great Grey Shrike also landed on the far fence line and they both sat perched only a matter of yards apart! Awesome! I was very amused by a young lad (around 10 years old I would guess) who was sitting next to me with his father – he had the same lens and camera body as me, which his father told me was his camera/lens. 'But you don't use it dad' declared his son! He was so excited about seeing the bird and photographing it, lovely to see a youngster so enthusiastic. There were some other young birders and twitchers around me and they made me feel quite old, well compared to them I suppose I was! The Masked Shrike remained along the back fence line and hidden in the far hedge for quite a while, so I decided to call it a day and started to get up from my spot. I took some pictures of the crowd, which had obviously grown since we had first arrived. Saw a few Norfolk birders here and too and Eddie's friend Simon Roberts was also there.
Beach by the Crown & Anchor Pub, Kilnsea.
It was spitting with rain now and the light was dire and it felt pretty cold. Walked up to the 'Crown & Anchor' Pub by the beach to find Justin and Andy watching a Pied Flycatcher in a small area of trees which I managed to see aswell. Nipped in the pub to use the loo and buy some chocolate. Took a picture of the sea, looked so lovely here. Pity we couldn't stay longer..... like a week! This was my first trip to Spurn – I have always wanted to go here and so here I was! Just round the corner near where we parked, we watched a Red-breasted Flycatcher in trees opposite the churchyard – it was tricky to see though, flitting about at quite a pace. Also saw 2 Wheatears somewhere, but can't remember exactly where now. We went back to the car and drove down to a cafe/carpark and walked to Canal Scrape and from the hide, we had fabulous views of a Jack Snipe! Justin and Andy had already seen this whilst I was left on my own and very kindly returned so I could see it too – there was a second bird, but I couldn't see this. Bumped into Will Soar here who had got some cracking pictures of the Masked Shrike, handheld with his phone through his scope! Other birds that Justin and Andy saw whilst I was photographing the Masked Shrike were: Siskins, Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchats. Nice to bump into Jack Ashton-Booth, who I have not seen since my last visit to Fair Isle. The weather was rubbish now and we left to go home. On route we stopped at Easington churchyard and watched a Pied Flycatcher and also a Kestrel landed on the face of the church wall (see picture). Can't remember what time we did leave now. On the way back we stopped at a chip shop which Andy and Justin have used before on twitches and we bumped into Will Soar again who was also stopping for his tea!
From Hide on Canal Scrape, Spurn
Got back to King's Lynn at just after 9pm. Now I really am tired!!! Huge thanks to Andy for driving and for both Justin's and Andy's usual excellent banter and company, just a pity I felt so ill on the way up. Also a massive thanks to John Furse who phoned me in the first place! Another mega bird added to my list, so happy to have seen this stunning shrike. It was so beautiful and I would describe this as being the Cinderella of the ball, which is probably why the 'ugly sister'..... the Great Grey Shrike had a go at it apparently, I read on the net this evening!!!