Sunday, 13 September 2015

Day 305 - A wonderful visitor to Nosterfield - Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)  best I could get with digiscoping
Hey everyone today's Day 305 and today was one of those days where I ended up doing something completely different to what I expected. Around breakfast time I got a message from Simon Warrick, one of the the founders of Nosterfield Local Nature Reserve and The Lower Ure Conservation Trust. He's a great person and he is very supportive of me. Anyway, he messaged me over Twitter today and said that there has been a sighting of a rare bird. Well that meant the familys plans changed for the day!

At first they thought it was a Red-Backed Shrike. After they had watched it for a while with better telescopes it turned out to be a Woodchat Shrike as it had a white bar on its wing, that makes it even rarer in the UK. There were a lot of people watching this bird but it was about 300m away from where we were watching it. I got a couple of digiscope shots with Simons scope and Dads phone as well as a few shots with my camera. Sadly they don't do the bird justice but the Arkive link below has some lovely shots.

So, here are the facts:

The best my camera could manage
  • Now, when I say rarer, I mean not seen here, at all. They are only supposed to be seen in Europe and Africa.
  • The only reason why it is here will be because of a migration error. What Simon said to me is that sometimes they will fly completely the other way to where they should be going.
  • Another possible reason that was mentioned was that there have been some easterly winds and this Shrike may just have been blown along to us as it was heading to its wintering grounds.
  • Speaking of where they come and go from, they usually breed in Western Europe and fly South to the Nigera level of Africa in Winter.
  • So, in this case, this juvenile Shrike was meant to fly South into Africa but must have turned around just before he set off and flew North to us.
  • In 1993 a Woodchat Shrike must've decided to take four week holiday at Kelling Heath, as it was seen around the Weyborune/Kelling area.
  • They are not assessed with a Status here in the UK but they are assessed globally and are Least Concern. The global population is estimated at around 1.4m to 3.6m birds.
  • The one assessment that I have seen was on the BTO was 21 records per year on average. I couldn't even find a number on the RSPB.
It kept hoping on and off this pile of sticks
  • Their Latin name (Lanius senator) actually means a butcher, a senator. possibly referring to a supposedly purple nape, reflecting a senator's robes.
  • They are about 18cm long with a 27cm wingspan. Both Males and Females weigh on average 35g.
  • Their diet is mainly insects, they like beetles, but will take small invertebrates. They hunt from a perch and the one today spent most of its time while I was there hopping off the big pile of twigs to the ground and back again.
Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Lovely to see, you manage to spot so many cool creatures Zach! - Tasha