|Great Grey Shrike sitting on Blackthorn|
Last week a Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) was found at the Slievenacloy Ulster Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve in the hills above Belfast. It was found by Dermot Hughes, who was a former director of conservation at the Trust. There have been only 17 records of one in Ireland since 1900. I had resisted the urge to race off and twitch it and had decided if I was going to look for it I would wait until we had better weather. As the reports kept on coming in that it was still around and I had to go to Belfast anyway I decided to combine the two.
I arrived at 10.30 and there was one other bird photographer there. He had not seen the bird at this point. I had just missed Cork/Donegal birder Ronan McLaughlin who I was told had got some nice photos of the bird. I scanned the blackthorn bushes on the north side of the road and immediately a bit of white caught my eye on some far off bushes. I was thinking Yes! this is easy. But it didn't move and after a while I decided it couldn't be. So I headed in it's general direction and was disappointed to see it was a small plastic bag. I spent an hour and a half looking along with some more birders that had arrived from Dublin. The only thing I had seen of note at this stage was this Orange Tip Butterfly.
|Orange Tip Butterfly Anthocharis cardamines|
|Great Grey Shrike|
|Great Grey Shrike in Flight|
Mike O'Keefe then suggested that we were not going to get decent shots of the bird if we stayed on the road so we slid under the fence and headed closer to it. I learnt a lesson do not take your eyes of a bird in this type of habitat as it had disappeared. It took us a wee while to relocate it and by this time it was hundreds of yards away. After about ten minutes it flew back again to where we had originally seen it and on this occasion I was able to stalk the bird and get within about 20 yards and it posed nicely for me :-) Click on images for larger view.