Sitting at home after a lazy morning, considering a few options for the afternoon, the pager flashes up “Red-backed Shrike, singing male, Richmond Park”. Not my side of town, but like most birders, I’ve got a soft spot for shrikes, and male Red-backed is a particularly handsome variety. After a relatively smooth journey (given the proportion of the North Circular involved), I arrived to get directions from Johnny Allan before he departed, and promptly found the shrike showing well within a couple of minutes.
Again, heat haze and distance were photo-killers… but like a certain Sylvia yesterday, the bird was very obliging, regularly nabbing bumble-bees and bringing them back to the same bush. Franko was doing a sterling job making non-birders aware of the shrike’s location, so it wasn’t unnecessarily flushed too often, and I had a quick chat with Dom while his daughter took control of Dad’s camera!
Just as forecast, the morning’s overcast conditions gradually gave way to longer sunnier periods, so I decided to go butterflying once again. Denbies Hillside is a picturesque spot on the North Downs just outside the M25, near Dorking – the steep grassy slopes support a considerable quantity of Horseshoe Vetch, and therefore a good colony of Adonis Blues.
These have been on the wing for a couple of weeks now, so many are getting a bit tatty, but I managed to find a few that were in decent nick and sat tight for photos. The iridiscent blue on the males really is stunning! The scenery was also pretty decent – nice to get some contour lines close together, unlike the norm in Essex!