A Shrike to to the Woods

I recently watched the great TV Show BBC Winterwatch. I must admit its one of the most inspiring shows I watch on the telly. I just want to go out with the camera and look for something new to photograph.

This years Winterwatch saw Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan visit the Forest of Dean , where they sat on Crab Tree Hill for hours waiting to glimpse a rare winter visitor - the Great Grey Shrike.

This fired up some enthusiasm in me and my friend Paul Joy to get out and see if we could get a photograph of this enigmatic bird.

We ventured out on Sunday and made our way up to Crab Tree Hill from  the car park that is down the road from the Speech House.

After a cold steady walk we got to Crab Tree Hill. Its an exposed moorland hill ,  that is surrounded by a woodland. The wind was bitingly cold, but fortunately the sun came out to thaw us out a little.

We waited for about an hour and a half and then the Shrike made an appearance. With a shout from Paul who spotted it we tried to get a decent photograph. The Shrike likes to perch at the very top of small trees so its got a good vantage point to swoop down and catch its prey - small rodents, lizards and insects.

On seeing it for the first time the Grey looked almost a pale blue and I was struck by how impressive it looked. 

We managed to get some great photos from a respectful  distance. Not too close as it would fly off to another perch - frustratingly so at times.

Really pleased that Mother Nature blessed us with some good luck today, seeing the Great Grey Shrike is my first 2018 lifer and what a great way to start a new year of birding firsts.


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