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Sunday, 21 October 2018


The crowd from the 'other side' at Weybourne
Sadly no pictures of the shrike!

Yesterday afternoon I went back to the family house at Holme to finish off some jobs and later returned to King's Lynn and fell into bed exhausted. I had no intention of setting the alarm in the morning. I had two appointments today – the first one at 1.30pm with a furniture restorer from Dersingham to discuss restoring a wonderful and very old black, glass-fronted bookcase, which was given to my parents as a wedding present from two elderly ladies who lived in Green Farm House at Cley. This bookcase (one of several) held my father's most important bird books, but is rather battered and bruised – he had screw hooks in the sides, from which hung his binoculars, bags etc! The second appointment was at 2.30pm to meet up with a prospective buyer for my mother's binoculars. The plan after that was to return to King's Lynn to go to the supermarket, as I have no food in the house – well there are a few tins in the cupboard, but the fridge is empty. Besides that, my house looks like its been bombed and needs a mass tidy.

When I woke up this morning, most of the morning had gone! Just before I got up, I thought about rare birds, holidays and how I seem to have a habit over the last few years of having no birds of note all week and then a mega turns up the day before I return to work. I dozily got out of bed and a few moments later the mega alert goes off: MEGA, Norfolk BROWN SHRIKE NW of Weybourne at Weybourne Camp by scrape at 10.47, (not Red-backed Shrike). Here we go! Typical – couldn't break my appointments, so would have to wait and hope I would be lucky later.

I had a few slices of bread left, so had marmalade on toast and tea, got ready and left the house to go to Holme. Had appointment with furniture restorer at parent's house, who gave me a quote which I agreed to, as I love that bookcase and the books will go back in it eventually, when I move. Met up with a local birder and prospective buyer along the Firs Road at Holme, to look at my mother's Swarovski Binoculars and I'm very happy to say that they are now sold!

Left Holme around 3pm I think it was. Loads of 'Sunday drivers' along the coast road and having a lovely time they were, stopping, slowing down and enjoying the views and yes of course they have every right to do this, but for goodness sake.......!!!!! Eventually I reached Weybourne and parked up in a sneaky place for free. Walked as fast as I could on shingle – felt like I was doing Blakeney Point again! Arrived on site for the Brown Shrike and could see two lines of birders – one on the seaward side and one on the inland side. I initially stood with the seaward side crowd, but worryingly no one was watching the bird, so with advice from a local birder we relocated to the inland crowd! Several well known Norfolk birders were standing this side, so I knew I would be potentially be in with a good chance. I was told that the Brown Shrike was very elusive and had not been seen for a while. I scanned and waited and hoped.
Finally at around 4.30pm, the Brown Shrike showed. Justin L. described where it was, but I just couldn't see it, as it was low down in a bush – the failings of being born short! Justin lowered his scope for me to look through, but I still wasn't tall enough to see through the scope and then someone jogged his scope out of view anyway. Paul J. had the shrike in his scope, which was positioned lower and I asked if I could look, which he said 'yes' to and I was lucky enough to see my first Brown Shrike! Thanks Paul! It was sitting low in a sallow bush and was distant and I didn't see it for long – in fact that was the only view I had of it, but I considered myself very lucky as anyone else arriving after 4.30pm dipped. Moss Taylor had kindly arranged for birders to go into this area with permission from the owner and was collecting £1 from each birder for charity, which was a little embarrassing as I only had just over 60p on me – so I owe him some pennies when I next see him and thanks to him and the owner for allowing people to get a little closer. Understandably, towards the end of the day, we were all asked to leave this area and go out through the gate to stand on the seaward side.

After moving back to the seaward side, a birder asked if anyone had lost a purse – it was mine, but not a purse, a tiny Christian Dior make-up bag I use to keep a couple of phone chargers in and USB lead, massive thanks to him! When I checked, I had left my scope bag zip undone – silly mistake! I stayed until dark with three other birders, but we didn't see it again. Returned to the car park and then headed home via Holt. I was so hungry as had not eaten since the marmalade on toast and discovered a chip shop in the high street and bought a veggie burger and chips – lovely! Got home by 8pm and fell asleep. Work in the morning!

See Steve Gantlett's photos HERE and HERE

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