Forewarned is forearmed.

My mind had drifted back to summer, to Ringlet and Purple Hairstreak butterflies, as I turned into the first big firebreak at the northern end of Ainsdale NNR and the Great Grey Shrike came swooping along over the woodland edge and out of sight over the canopy.
Its long tail, black mask and white wingflash stood out as it whizzed by, off and away about its murderous business, looking as pale and dashing as ever, despite the murky light as it crossed my path at 11.30am.
Andy Spottiswood had watched the shrike earlier this morning out on the seaward edge of the pines, where the Wryneck lurked a few autumns ago.
Even then he had described it as mobile and flighty, but his text had lured me down to the reserve for an autumn stroll nonetheless.
A brief audience with a Great Grey is better than nothing, although I was hoping for more than flight views.
The shrike gave the impression of moving inland, so for the next two hours I ‘scoped the fields between Pinfold Lane, RAF Woodvale and Formby bypass, I checked around Formby Hall Golf Club, North Moss Lane and I even gave Plex Moss a go.
Now my mind was drifting back to wintering birds at the end of Fisherman’s Path – or behind Formby Hall bazillions of years ago – then the more recent visitations at Cabin Hill and Marshside.
There’s a lot of places for a Great Grey Shrike to disappear out there though – and that’s just what it did.
No further sign as the November rain crept in and I headed for home.
The shrike could just as easily have swung back towards the dunes when I lost it over the pines I suppose – or it could have kept on flying further inland and away away away.
Win some, lose some!

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