Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring appears to have sprung totally and utterly

Ah, what could conjur up images of spring migration better than a vagrant migrant perched amongst blossoms...


It's a woodchat shrike. I'm pretty sure this is, somehow, my first ever shrike. Shrikes are unbelievably cool: exhibit A - their genus name means "butcher" and exhibit B - Thomas Harris' Lecter-introducing novel Red Dragon features a serial killer named after them. In addition, as a plus for birders, they like to find nice vantage points and sit watching on making vagrant ones nice and easy to spot. I saw this bird in the morning and then went back in the evening to try for better photos. I had a bit of a walk round, couldn't find him and then spotted him sat in a bush, 25 feet from my car, looking at me. Legend.


He then decided to pose a bit more artistically (for which I was grateful).

woodchat6Woodchat shrikes are pretty small, wikipedia says they eat (like most shrikes) small birds and amphibians amongst other things but check out this record shot I got of this bird with a chaffinch. This is not a big bird to be eating other birds....

woodchat shrike2

It was really nice to connect with such a nice bird so easily this weekend. I'd been having my doubts, having dipped 3 or 4 interesting vagrants on the island of late. I'm headed away for 2 weeks in a couple of days and could've done without time spent birding this weekend. As a result getting such a cool bird so easily was a real gift from spring.

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