Sunday, 18 October 2015

Baled out by the RBS

On Wednesday, my trusty 400mm lens was pointing at an exquisite Wilson's Warbler on the Isle of Lewis. Unfortunately, I wasn't behind it, as I had lent it to my butter-fingered friend Steve Smith, who dropped his a few weeks ago. Greater love hath no man than this: that he lend out his lens for his friend's lifer.
Those birders who weren't en route or on the way back from Lewis all seemed to be heading to Norfolk for the weekend, where a feast of eastern rarities was on offer. I was unable to join them either due to domestic commitments, so by this morning I was going pretty stir crazy in sleepy Dorset. There was nothing for it but to make myself 'unavailable for selection' in the Wareham Rangers under-13s parental fan club, opting for a day's birding instead.
A morning spent around Purbeck was pretty unsuccessful, bird-wise, so it was looking like it might be a pretty bleak weekend all in all. Then, remembering that Portland was chock full of Short-eared Owls, and that I have yet to photograph that species in 2015, I turned tail and headed there for the afternoon. Before I got to the Bill, however, news came through of a Red-backed Shrike at Suckthumb Quarry, reappearing in that location after a three day absence. I was minutes away so detoured there instead.
There are two main types of shrike - flighty shrikes, or approachable shrikes. Fortunately, this was one of the latter. I grabbed a few shots, scooted off on an owl hunt (more on that later) and went back for more when the late afternoon sun came out. A wonderfully confiding little bird, it was a real tonic to spend some time with it - and about time RBS saved the day. #227 on the photo year list.

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