January 19, 2011:
About ten days ago a Great Grey Shrike had been seen near to the village of Long Marton near Appleby in the Eden valley, Cumbria. Last Friday (the 14th) I decided to make the trip to try to find the bird as it had been seen again on the previous day. The area which it frequented comprised open countryside north of the village, mainly farmland, with scattered trees and hedgerows. However, after scouring the area for three hours, there was no sign of the bird and I returned home but only to find later that it had been seen again that same afternoon.
So a return round-trip in excess of 150 miles had to wait until today. Again the outcome seemed unpromising as time went by with no appearance of the bird until in failing light in late afternoon it was sighted perched on overhead wires near to the road junction to Knock. There was just chance for a few distant photos before it flew off but it was soon re-found giving good views perched in typical Shrike fashion on the uppermost tips of trees along the roadside hedgerow. Again a few photos were possible before it disappeared in the gathering gloom not to be seen again. In looking for the Shrike, I had spent more than seven hours over two days as well as four hours travelling time but in the end it was all very worthwhile. Like the two drake Smews at Talkin two weeks ago, these Cumbrian birds seem only to make an appearance late in the day!
For the Shrike there was much suitable territory near Long Marton and its ability to move quickly around made it a frustrating and elusive bird to catch sight of. In the end, however, luck played its part.
Two Buzzards were also seen circling high nearby plus a Kestrel and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers along with many other of the commoner birds.
[Great Spotted Woodpeckers seemed to be quite common here]
Also, there was a beautiful sunset over the Lakeland hills seen on the way home.