Woodchat Shrike, Chipping Sodbury

Woodchat Shrike

(Try saying that fast!) And almost the only bird on the Common. Again the technique for finding it was to follow the birders. I still expected a wait and took my wildflower – sorry, weed – guide to pass the time.

It wasn’t necessary. The rather pale female, found on Saturday by Yate Birder (Darren Pearce), obliged by perching openly as shrikes are wont. Without knowing how much distance I’d have to lug a scope, I’d travelled light and would have settled for binocular views. The walk wasn’t that far and other watchers had their scopes, so I had my close-ups anyway. Birders are always generous about that.

So, another, quicker British tick to follow the blue-winged teal and naturally the shrike was a Gloucestershire and Avon lifer too. Not a lifer lifer though: that was in Alicante, 2004. It takes me back…

Apart from watching Manchester United beat Millwall in the FA Cup final at an English bar there, I saw black wheatear, serin and crested lark. A day trip into the hills behind Benidorm landed me Bonelli’s warbler, short-toed treecreeper and firecrest. I carried on round to the coast, north at Penon de Ifach for greater flamingo and gull-billed tern. Many, many species I’ve not seen since. I must return to Spain.

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