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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Failing to find a Red Backed Shrike at Sand Point!

On Sunday the 28th September I went to Sand Point, a peninsula that stretches out into the Bristol Channel at the end of Sand Bay in Somerset, UK.
    I went with the sole intention of finding and photographing a Red Backed Shrike there, a very rare bird that I had always wanted to see but never had! One had been sighted here for a few days previous to my visit and I was hoping I'd get lucky!
  One big mistake was in not taking my binoculars with me! Scanning the slopes of the Point with a camera is not ideal!
  There were many small birds in the Blackthorn and Hawthorn bushes, but none of them were the elusive Shrike! One particular bird that got me excited more than once was the Stonechat! Like the Shrike it has a habit of sitting exposed on the edge of bushes and trees!
   There were also Robins, Chiffchaffs and Linnets in the bushes, but alas, no Shrike!
At one stage a Warbler appeared at a distance, I managed a couple of shots before it disappeared. It looked a little different to the Whitethroats I usually see, and I thought it may be the scarcer Lesser Whitethroat, but even looking at my shots I can't be sure!
   I walked right to the tip of the point and sat on the rocks at the end, looking over the Bristol Channel to Cardiff in Wales. To the left were the Islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm. My disappointment at not finding the Shrike quickly ebbed away as I relaxed for a few minutes, just enjoying the peace and tranquility. It was beautiful!
  As it was a warm sunny Autumn day the Point was busy with walkers, but none ventured right to the end where I was sat as it involved some awkward rock climbing above some worrying cliffs. As I scrambled over, bemoaning the fact I wasn't as young as I used to be, I was more worried about keeping my camera safe! Luckily I succeeded, and I also managed not to fall to my grisly death aswell, so doubly lucky!
   As I relaxed enjoying the view I saw and heard an Oystercatcher and a few Gulls. There were also a few Curlew and a Whimbrel flying around the end of the Point. They enjoy the mudflats and marshy areas between Kewstoke village and the Point.
 After a while I mustered enough energy to negotiate my way back over the rocks again and onto the gently sloping grassy slopes. It was here that I managed my best photo of the day, a beautiful Wheatear that appeared in front of me and for once didn't disappear as I raised my camera and focused, in fact it posed quite nicely! I'd always wanted a decent Wheatear photo, one of my favourite birds, and now I had one! A rather pleasing consolation prize for me, considering my failure to detect the Shrike! One day!!
    All in all a very nice 2 or 3 hours at a beautiful place! I must return soon with my family! :-)

Below are some of the pictures from the visit;

^^Above^^ - Wheatears

^^Above^^ - The confirmed Lesser Whitethroat!! (Thank you Oliver Mockridge!)

^^Above^^ - Magpie

^^Above^^ - Chiffchaff

^^Above^^ - Stonechats

^^Above^^ - Rock Pipit

^^Above^^ - Robin

^^Above^^ - A rather bedraggled looking Feral Pigeon!

^^Above^^ - Whimbrel

^^Above^^ - Curlew

^^Above^^ - Small Copper Butterfly on Ragwort

^^Above^^ - Speckled Wood Butterfly

^^Above^^ - Various rock plants..... not sure what type!

^^Above^^ - Rosehip

^^Above^^ - Blackberries, Bramble and grasses.