One of the UK’s most rare birds put in an unexpected appearance this week at a CRT supported farm in Comberton, Cambridgeshire. CRT Trustee and tenant farmer Tim Scott, uses the same practices cultivated on CRT's Lark Rise Farm, as he does here.

The great grey shrike only ever visits Britain during the winter after migrating from northern Europe. They are notoriously difficult to spot because of their large feeding territories.

Tim: "We were privileged to spot it. Doesn’t it just speak volumes for the success of the CRT’s environmentally-friendly farming practices, that these incredibly rare birds have adopted our fields as their winter home?"

This is the second time in five years that the great grey shrike, the largest of the European shrikes, has been seen at Barton. The powerful, blackbird-sized predator has not been recorded anywhere else in Cambridgeshire.

Tim continued: "They are a fascinating bird to watch and hugely impressive with a ‘bandit’ mask across their eyes and a flicking long tail. There is no doubting what they are."

Characteristically, great grey shrikes perch conspicuously on high vantage points – usually a tall bush – before swooping down on their prey, which can range from beetles, bees and other slow moving invertebrates to lizards, small mammals and even other birds that they will grasp with their powerful feet.

Invariably, these victims are carried back to a thorny bush or barbed wire and impaled for easy dismemberment or to be saved for another day, if too much food has been caught. Its habit of creating such ‘larders’ earned it the name ‘butcher bird’ in olden times.

The great grey shrike at Lark Rise has already attracted a considerable army of twitchers from all over the region and one of the watchers was the CRT’s Head of Wildlife Monitoring Dr Vince Lea.

Vince observed how the shrike had tried to attack a group of long tailed tits – without success.

Vince said: "The whole flock of them saw what was happening and got very annoyed with it – mobbing the shrike like they would an owl and driving it off. It didn’t have any luck with them."