Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 1 February 2016

Grimes Graves, Norfolk

February started where January left off, very mild at 14 degrees celsius, even the strong wind didn't feel to cold.  It remained dry and generally bright throughout the day with some passing light drizzle.
Following work this morning I decided to make for heathland close to Grimes Graves.  Having parked off-road I then walked along forest trails to the Grimes Graves access road.  As soon as I reached the boundary of Grimes Graves I saw a very distant white spot on the top of a Hawthorn, it was as I expected a Great Grey Shrike, a regular winter visitor to this site.                                  
Great Grey Shrike at Grimes Graves 01/02/16 (A typical view)
Despite always remaining distant, the Great Grey Shrike presented no problems with identification due to its conspicuous behaviour and highly distinct plumage features.
First impressions are of a white, grey, and black bird which always perches on the topmost part of a thorny bush.  The photograph, despite showing the bird as distant, clearly sees the more salient features.  The crown and mantle is pale grey, and the black eye stripe is seen. The wings are black, these contrast with the white underparts.  The upper-tail is black with white outer tail feathers.
During my observation of the Shrike, some strong gusty winds saw the bird being buffeted about, but it hung on.
To the layperson, the Shrikes would appear to look like, and behave like raptors, especially when seen close to and that sharp hooked bill is seen, however, the bird is assigned to the passeriformes, or perching birds.
The wind put pay to overflying birds, however, other species seen included a single Stonechat (female) and a hunting male Kestrel.


  1. Hi Paul, enjoying the blog posts as always. I'll be over your way February half term week (13th onwards) but can't yet pinpoint a day. Will let you know nearer the time just incase you're free. Will be strongly led by the weather though, a nice clear day for Gos needed! Jim.

  2. Hi Jim, I hope you are keeping very well my friend, also I hope that you are enjoying your new home. I am working sadly on the weekend of 13th/14th Feb, but what I might do is check to see if I can get the week starting Monday 15th Feb off.....I need it as I haven't had a break for a while. I will let you know as soon as I can Jim.