Monday 2 January 2012

Great Grey Shrike in Staffordshire

With the sun shining brightly and a slight chill in the wind it was a perfect day for a stroll around Cannock Chase. The first stop was Upper Longdon where a Great Grey Shrike had set up a winter territory in an area of clear fell. Near the roadside a couple of Brambling were spotted feeding among the beechmast with a small flock of Chaffinch.  We then took the path down to the valley and within a few minutes were enjoying stunning views of the handsome Lanius perched atop the sparsely distributed rotting tree trunks.

Great Grey Shrike - Upper Longdon, Staffordshire.
All photos by Adam Archer

With a bit of patience the bird showed right next to the paths that skirt the perimeter of its favoured feeding area so trudging aimlessly around the clear fell area seemed pretty pointless.  Unfortunately a few birders and photographers did not seem to share my point of view though.  The highlight of the afternoon was when it spotted a potential item of prey and took advantage of the breezy conditions by hovering above it for around fifteen seconds in the style of a small, monochrome Kestrel.  The only other species of note was a single Raven passing through, my 100th species of 2012.

We then drove across to the other side of the Chase to Freda's Grave. At this popular site we picked up a few more year ticks including a couple of Willow Tit and a pair of Bullfinch around the feeding station.  There were also good numbers of Coal Tit and Nuthatch showing well amongst the usual woodland species just inches away from the bumper of the parked cars. A quick walk down into Sherbrook Valley produced a Green Woodpecker and the odd Reed Bunting or two, once again new species for the new year.

Sherbrook Valley, Cannock Chase.

On the way back home we decided to brave the plummeting temperatures and the biting wind chill factor by calling into Chasewater for the gull roost.  After picking out a couple of adult Yellow-legged Gulls it was Snapper Richards that came to the rescue by locating the third winter Iceland Gull just before hypothermia set in.

All in all it was a pretty enjoyable start to 2012 bird wise but alas all good things must come to an end.... it's back to work for me tomorrow.


  1. Glaucous in Leic, Iceland in Staffs, come on Arch Warks has got some birds you coulda got both tonight at Draycote ;-)
    Hey I've voted on your 2010 best rarity but saw my fave in 2011 !!

  2. I would have toured Shakespeare's County for year ticks but you can never be too sure whether the sightings are genuine or not... especially where Draycote is concerned. :o)

  3. Great Grey Shrike - great bird ! Cannock Chase looks cold..