Spent Sunday morning writing up recent bird records and the July Bulletin when I checked Birdguides and Woodchat Shrike at South Shields led me to down tools and head south. As I arrived it was raining just like the last time when the Eastern Crowned Warbler paid a visit. Not quite the conflagration of that occasion but here was about twenty birders there, and the bird was clearly showing at the time. The birders split into two groups which I later concluded was Durham and Northumberland. I of course joined the later and was directed to the bird only to see it disappear into the small copse.
The rain stopped the sun came out and we waited. Call this a Shrike! Where's the sitting on top of the highest perch and flycatching. This one was clearly shy and stayed deep in the undergrowth. SPP miraculously got onto it and I had a brief view through his scope but the bird dropped back into the shadows.
More waiting, more false alarms and discussions of glories past. More people joined the throng and many left, including three who headed to Seaburn in search of Bonaparte. Then somebody got the bird low down in the darkest patch possible so we moved around to get a better view. No sooner had we set up than I noticed movement on the rocks to the right of the copse where a Woodpigeon had been sitting earlier. Expecting to see this fatty once again I was delighted to get a spectacular view of the Woodchat Shrike.
Crap photos don't do it justice. The head was very pale in moult but the edges still had a bit of russet colour in them. The black wings with white shoulder and the cheeky chappy face were a great sight.
Well worth the wait. Another view of it perched atop the tallest tree as I left the quarry re-assured me it was a shrike.