Last night, I popped out to Tanholt pits, near Eye to check for Rock Pipits at the newly drained 'new' pit. Brian H Stone had one there a few days ago, and it looks ripe for another visit. I saw a Red kite and at least five White Wagtails, but that was that really. So, I headed up to see even less at Maxey pits. When I got home at about 6.30pm, I checked Peterbirder and my jaw dropped. There was a simple report of a Great Grey Shrike near the first roundabout heading east onto the Thorney bypass.
Back in early October, I had heard of a GGS in virtually exactly that spot, but after a couple of hours of searching had given it up. Now came a report that suggested that the shrike may even have overwintered there.
I parked near the roundabout at 6.30 this morning, expecting a typically fruitless search, and having crossed the road looked up to see a Great Grey Shrike looking back at me less than 50m away.
This is the first Great Grey Shrike I have seen in the Peterborough area since October 2002 and only my fourth shrike in the PBC area ever, and first in spring (the others were an Isabelline Shrike in September 2000 and a Red-backed Shrike in September 2004). It has been a long wait for another shrike. But, boy are they good birds. I will return at some stage and try to get some images.
GGS is my 20th 'elite' species in the PBC area this year, out of 127 I have seen; which represents a pretty good start to the year list (despite being away for a couple of weeks in January). Particular highlights so far include the shrike, Glossy Ibis and Snow Bunting and it has been a good year for geese with Brent and tundra Bean being among the pick of them.
I'll let you know how I am doing again, at the traditional time at the end of March...