Warning: This blog contains some rubbish photos:
The less said about the Dusky Thrush the better. As I doubt I'll last another 54 years to the next twitchable one I'm pretty gutted I wasn't able to get down to Margate on Saturday.
On Sunday I consoled myself with what my neighbouring county Suffolk had to offer and headed first to the Denes at Lowestoft to see the pair of shrikes that had turned up there. First to be perused was the Woodchat, barely 50 yards from where I saw one in October 2011, favouring a large bramble patch adjacent to the Links Road car park. It was relatively unconcerned by the numerous dog walkers and fed very actively on the numerous insects flying in the sunshine.
It was just a short walk on to the male Red-backed Shrike, in my opinion our handsomest shrike. This shrike too was banqueting on the abundant flies which you can see if you click on the photo.
With the sun still shining I moved on to Lakenheath Fen. I've been meaning to visit this reserve for some years and the Red-footed Falcon finally gave me the impetus to get over there. The last time I went to Lakenheath was 1988 when it was still a huge poplar plantation and Golden Orioles were relatively easy to see there. My memories of the site then are vague, I was in my pram after all (if you believe that you'll believe anything) but talking to other birders who also remembered the site from the 80s did begin to stir those memories back in to life. The few remaining stands of poplars are looking a bit sickly now and I didn't see or hear an Oriole but the Red-footed Falcon was superb, hawking insects over New Fen almost continuously whilst I was there.
The air was ringing to the sounds of numerous Cuckoos, and Reed and Sedge Warblers sang from the reed beds. I also saw my first dragonfly of the year, probably a Hairy. The day was made even more pleasant by bumping in to several old friends and I rounded it off by a brief but successful stop at Weeting to see the Stone Curlews.