With a report of Woodchat Shrike literally 2 minutes up the road from the front door, at Stambridge Mills I went looking, as did a couple of others. I went knowing there was little proper Shrike habitat but a vagrant can always just appear in odd places. Some piles of logs and branches near the fishing ponds looked possible as did the bushes that run away from the cricket pitches along the seawall and the old mill compund but nothing appeared.
After a couple of hours we gave up wondering if it was genuine or not or just not where we were looking.
Next morning at around 7:30ish an update was obtained from the finder saying it had been in the horse paddocks the night before and was still present at 7:20pm, when we were still searching Stambrige Mills. Unfortunately the horse paddocks are closer to Rochford Park than the mills so searching there the previous evening was not considered.
Once I had finished my walk around Doggetts Pits I went straight to the horse paddocks, somewhere where I sometimes walk and had more or less been here a few evenings previously. I passed the horses and walked the hedge line and passed a patch of brambles that I thought 'that looks a likely spot for a shrike' but there was no shrike present.
I carried on heading towards Stambridge Mills thinking that the bird had almost certainly departed overnight when images of the bird from the previous evening emerged sat on the brambles I had just passed.
I about turned and went back to the gap in the hedge and there on the brambles was the Woodchat Shrike, a stunning male.
I got some record shots of the bird and then posted on the local grapevine that it was still present and within a few hours all local birders had connected and as the day wore on more and more visitors came.
It was warm and the bird was actively hunting and feeding and was even heard singing.
The following day it was cooler and got windier as the day progressed but it continued to show well and by the time I finally left the site around 250 or more birders had come and gone. It was extremely popular.
There are a lot of images of the bird on Twitter etc but these are amongst my best. Most are wider shots to give a bit more context to the habitat.
So a pretty rare bird half mile from my front door that was eventually tracked down and enjoyed by many, sweet.