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Monday, 20 May 2013

Woodchat & Red- backed Shrike duo on North Denes at Lowestoft

On Sunday 19th May I was walking down onto the North Denes at 7pm hoping to see the RBShrike from saturday, having missed it returning from Margate. As I walked down the steps, I had a tweet from Rene , saying it was still in the isolated bramble. Looking at the bramble just north of the Oval, there was no sign but looking east I saw Rene scoping something in an isolated bramble bush on the Denes. Joining him, initially the bird couldn't be seen and it flew to the first wing break of trees bushes north of the Oval, it was a superb male Red- backed Shrike in full summer plumage with black mask, reddish & chestnut brown back with a pink flush on the chest. It perched on the eastern edge of the wind break before flying back to the bushes at the base of the cliff. It was seen here well, especially as we approached carefully and managed to get a few pics from 24 feet away. Meanwhile by the bramble by the Oval, a male Whitethroat was seen and 2 Long- tailed Tits. Rob Wil, then both Nevilles and Chris M, said he'd been briefly watching a Shrike by the wall on the eastern section of the Oval. Well it certainly wasn't our bird so we went in search of what we thought was another RB Shrike. How wrong we were! I elected to look in on the Oval (wrong decision) but Rene struck gold when he saw it and yelled out "Woodchat Shrike!" Well done to Chris & Rene on their excellent find. Looking over by a large bush by the entrance to the Oval, we could scoped and see a distant adult female Woodchat Shrike perched on the very top on its eastern end. She had a velvety looking chestnut crown with thick black face mask and noticeable amount of white on the lores indicating the bird was a female. She had a black back with greyer area approaching the whitish rump. There was a thick white patch on the upper wing and a much smaller white patch near the edge indicating this bird was of eastern European origin rather than being that of a Balearic race. She had whitish underparts with the flanks showing a pale rusty hue. She was eventually pushed by a dog walker closer as it flew and perched on the eastern oval wall directly in front of a pine tree trunk, it then flew closer on hedges peaks protruding over the height of the wall. A dog walker coming from the north, it flew south and into the Oval. Peering over the wall, we saw it perched on the Tennis court fence before flying down to the small manicured bushes by the start of pitch and putt, OFB went inside the Oval to photograph it when the keeper arrived, the bird was then flushed and flew south west within the oval. Inexplicably at this time everyone went off. I then seized the opportunity to walk around the path bordering the wall and as I reached the south- west section i noticed perched in a bush bordering the green, the head of the Woodchat, crouching down I was barely 20 feet away from the Shrike. She sometime stretched her head before flying to the bushes along the western edge catching beetles and promptly devouring it. She appeared to cough several times, obviously hoping to produce a pellet. I was really enjoying having the Shrike to myself but seeing Ricky walking out of the Oval, I tweeted out and within minutes was joined by half a dozen people. the bird performed well occasionally flying down to the ground and catching insects. Eventually leaving her, I walked back saw the male Red- backed Shrike again perched in the bramble just north of the Oval. A visit to Breydon water failed to reveal the Monty's, Sedge Warbler heard by the dyke and a male Whitethroat seen singing the only birds seen on what was a disappointing visit.

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