Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Red backed Shrike

 As mentioned last time,  this has been a good month for Red backed Shrikes in the UK. The Northern Isles have had the lions share with up to 30 odd a day on Fair Isle only with plenty of Icterine and Marsh Warblers too. This makes it all the more frustrating when odd birds appear either side of the patch but despite searching, we've had no luck.

So, not wanting to miss out on at least some of the action, a nice male popped up about 6 miles from home at Football Hole near the Long Nanny at Low Newton, so we called along on Friday night for a look.

It was a pleasant sunny evening and we soon saw the shrike sitting around a hawthorn hedgerow across a field corner. It was always a bit distant for photos but decent views were had as it sallied down into the grass for an unseen prey species. At one stage he even began singing in the lee of a bush while catching the last rays of evening sunshine.

Male Red backed Shrike.

On Sunday some good migrant grounding weather encouraged us to head off to Holy Island where there was bound to be things of interest.

We got an exhausted soaking as we covered the Chare Ends, Excavations, Straight Lonnen and Crooked Lonnen with little to show for it. We had single Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat and Garden Warbler plus we flushed a 'long headed' warbler that may have been an Icterine or an Acro but it was never seen again. Bird of the moring was a ringtail Harrier hunting in the fog and rain. Better views by other obserevers showed the bird to be a first summer male Hen Harrier.

Later in the afternoon, after we had left, Andy Mould found and photographed a Green Warbler, a county first no less, but despite many searching, the bird was only seen briefly once more and that was the end of that.

On Bank Holiday Monday, Jane and I went back up on to the island to have a picnic over the high tide. Its great being cut off on there, like a proper island. No tourists and just quite big skies.

I didnt really search for passerines, but had 3 Little Stints with 150 Ringed Plovers on the causeway on our way home.


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