In an entirely predictable but still very annoying turn of events, the appearance of the shrike at Glynde appears to have coincided neatly with the only week in the last year that I’ve spent out of Sussex.
But a walk along the Reach today was worth it anyway. The water was frozen, and the landscape surrounding it subject to a severe and picturesque frost.
At the bridge, a male Blackcap fed beside the Reach – the first I’ve seen this winter. There were two pairs of Stonechats, one close to the village, another half a mile along the reach towards Ripe, and many thrushes and Robins.
Overlooking the open fields, there were no Lapwings visible (although Alan Kitson reported some with 60 Golden Plover and a Barn Owl towards the other side of the Levels today). A Buzzard braved the cold air, and a Kestrel scrutinised the area from a number of high perches – possibly a reason for the shrike’s absence.
Then returning to the village, a Common Snipe gave us a flypast, as it prospected a reedy ditch for some unfrozen mud to poke its considerable bill into. And a group of 17 Mute Swans heading over the village towards the levels made a beautiful sight and an equally impressive sound.
Who needs a shrike anyway?