Never got round to seeing the Lincolnshire Steppe Grey Shrike, but tales and pictures of it perching on birders' heads, stealing shoelaces and coming on all point blank etc haven't left my imagination.
So armed with Ralph's satnav (the nice lady talked me right to the site, via a few odd backroads - thanks for the loan buddy), I belted down the M6 this morning and was at Wall Farm before 10.30am.
Unfortunately it was pretty gusty - hardly the best conditions for viewing a perchy bird like a shrike, and this Steppe Grey Shrike did not have the same tendencies of overfamiliarity that the Lincolnshire bird possessed.
It disappeared for long periods of time, and hunted low down in a raggedy hedgerow, usually obscured by vegetation, and perching only briefly.
Closest it came was about 60 metres away - no chance of a decent digiscope image, but reasonable scope views.
Black mask ending at the eye, pale lores and bill and dirty great big white wingflashes all pointed to a pallidirostris, and when it flew, its tail seemed very bright white and swishy - whole bird seemed paler than a Great Grey, but it was hard to be certain in the blustery conditions and poor light.
At times the limited mask was not obvious, presumably a problem caused by the bird's posture (see blurry pic above) and distance, so it was not hard to see why folk thought this was a Great Grey originally.
A few other birds about in this bleak corner of Shropshire - Redwings, Fieldfare and Skylarks over, Common Buzzard and a fine couple of Crossbills (always good to see).
A Merlin sat up in the hedgerow for a time.
I gave the shrike three hours, but by that time it hadn't shown the slightest inclination to come any closer, let alone land on anyone's head (I had checked the twitch for suitable woolly hats earlier), so I headed back up north.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...