A credible video of a great grey shrike at the top of a mature lodgepole pine tree off Llanover Road, Blaenavon got me up and out early in the hope of tracking it down. As there is a substantial area of forestry clear fell at Blaenavon Community Woodland this is where I focused my attention.
A clear mild morning was accompanied by a fair bit of birdsong. A song thrush was in full flow along with a number flyover croaking raven. Several hundred metres beyond the woodlands entrance is a remnant farm building here some kind soul has scattered bird seed and erected three feeders just out of arms reach. Here a nuthatch and coal tit fed briefly while redpoll called overhead. A couple of tree creeper moved from tree to tree and eventually out of sight. Despite a prolonged search of the tops of trees there was no sign of the great grey shrike. My attention drifted to some of the mature trees that were scattered around this lost farmstead.
Multi-stemmed mature beech and sycamore showed evidence of historic management, whilst an embankment displayed a few flowering blackthorn, not commonly found in the uplands. In a secluded dingle was a beech tree with the tell tale black staining of Phytophthora disease possible P.ramorum. Back to the main woodland thoroughfare and the dog walkers were starting to appear, so it was time to trek back, but not before noting the first frog spawn of the year in a small pond.