I finally caught up with the Great Grey Shrike on Saturday, just ahead of the snowfall.
The Reach was almost completely frozen, and I followed it around the bend towards Glynde Levels for almost a mile without seeing much at all – a dozen Lapwings scattered around the pasture, a few Fieldfares, a Kestrel and five Moorhens skidding about on the ice.
I was on my way back and had resigned myself to drawing a blank, when a scan of the bushes along the railway line near the Station revealed a distant grey bird with natty black face mask, atop a high branch. After a few moments it dropped down, flashing a long black and white tail, and disappeared into the wrong side of a low scrubby bush, not to be seen again. Hardly satisfying, but beats my total dip of the 2009 bird.
As I got back to the car, five Buzzards (all standard issue) were circling over the same sedgy field.
The previous day a walk along the unfrozen stream in Firle Park produced at least 75 Teal in a number of parties, the biggest of around 40, as well as the Green Sandpiper.
At least 40 were still present on Sunday, this time against a backdrop of snow, and a pristine, lone adult Lesser-blacked Gull (these always look fantastic in wintry weather) was gliding around the Park.
Aside from the bumper Teal numbers, the cold snap hasn’t generated too much out of the ordinary – a few Lapwing over the village, and plenty of winter thrushes and Blackbirds feeding around the houses in the village. No Snipe or Woodcock, as yet.