For a while the present Great Grey Shrike was playing hard to get with a sighting in one location, then a gap for a few weeks, followed by another sighting in another location as it gave the local birders and patch listers a bit of a run around. To date the birds movements include:
1. 23rd January 2011: Skipwith Village, Bonby Lane (RSPB Group Unknown)
2. 20th February 2011: North Duffield Carrs (Geoff Smith Hide) (A. Walker et al.)
3. 21st February 2011: North Duffield Carrs (Geoff Smith Hide) (A. Whitehead et al.)
4. 3rd March 2011: North Duffield Carrs (Geoff Smith Hide) (Unknown - photographed)
5. 18th March 2011 (am): North Duffield Carrs (Geoff Smith Hide) (Unknown per Birdguides)
6. 18th March 2011 (pm): Skipwith Common (D. Tate)
7. 19th March 2011 (all day): Skipwith Common (A. Whitehead (am) and R. Slack et al. (pm))
8. 20th March 2011 (am): Skipwith Common (P. Reed et al.)
9. 20th March 2011 (early pm): Skipwith Village (J. Beaumont et al.)
10. 20th March 2011 (late pm): North Duffield Carrs (Geoff Smith Hide) (A. Walker et al.)
11. 21st March 2011 (am): North Duffield Carrs (Geoff Smith Hide) (A. Whitehead et al.)
12. 22nd – 24th March 2011: Skipwith Common (D. Tate, C. Ralston, R. Slack, A. Walker et al.)
Great Grey Shrike © Clare Scott March 24th 2011
At first it was considered a slim possibility that there may be two birds involved in the early sightings, but on Sunday 20th March after been observed by various birders in the morning at Skipwith Common, John Beaumont observed the bird flying from Skipwith Common over Skipwith village towards North Duffield Carrs, where I found the bird in the late afternoon, back in front of the Geoff Smith Hide.
There are a couple of thoughts on this bird’s movement:
1. It appears possible that the bird is primarily feeding in Skipwith Common during the ‘good weather’ – where there is plentiful food supply (e.g. Lizards, small birds/mammals and plenty of bumble bees) and when the weather is poor it is moving to North Duffield Carrs to feed on small birds/mammals and amphibians; and/or,
2. The bird is primarily utilizing Skipwith Common to feed/roost etc but during the weekends, when the reserve is busy and when there is a lot of disturbance (e.g. dog walkers, ramblers, bikers etc) it then moves/is flushed over to the much quieter North Duffield Carrs area.
Dave Tate kindly provided information on past records of Great Grey Shrike at Skipwith Common:
1. 1940: Goode (1964) reported 1 in 1940.
2. 1948: 'A bird was picked up dead on a road near Escrick in fresh condition on 3rd November and sent to 'The Game keeper'. Another bird was present at Skipwith during the winter months.' (Source: 1948 Report Naturalist 1949).
3. 1969: In letter written by Peter Pearson - re: objections to Poultry Farm - he reports that Great Grey Shrike have been seen on the Common on three separate occasions during recent times (dates currently unknown).
4. 1985: One on the Common on 19th December 1985 (per C. Ralston 2006).
5. 1999: One on the Common during late January 1999 when at least 3birds in the surrounding area (per C. Ralston 2006).
6. 2011: Current bird, 18 March onwards, see details above.