Having been working nr Carlisle the previous night, I had been scrutinising Wader flocks on the Solway at Port Carlisle for the past five hours, when the surprising news of a possible Steppe Grey Shrike at Alston came through on the pager.
This was too good an opportunity for me to hopefully expand my experience with SGS which currently stands at the grand total of one individual, the 1stw in Lincolnshire in November 2008, and no experience of this species abroad.
Upon arrival, It didn't take long to find the bird, but what I was confronted with left me of the opinion for some time that the bird appeared to be a Great Grey Shrike.
The only other person present, Cumbrian birder Craig Shaw also independently formed this opinion and this is how it remained for some time until we both began chewing on the fact that neither of us could remember a record of a summering GGS in Britain in at least the last 25 years that we had both been active birders.
So, with the stats apparently stacked against a summer GGS and with no literature to hand, coupled with the messy state of the birds plumage which we thought was likely to be 2nd calendar year, we elected to err on the side of caution and call it a Grey Shrike sp pending further research/opinion.
Here are a few more images of the bird: