May 29th   Leave a comment

The female red-backed shrike still at Balcomie today

The red-backed shrike was still there this morning. In the middle of the walled garden at Balcomie, with the haar even thicker than yesterday. Again, but only by the afternoon today, the haar cleared to bright shrike suiting sunshine. The shrike then moved out to the fence along the adjoining sheep field, flycatching into the long grass. It looked like it was catching St Marks flies – the big black long-legged flies that are everywhere at the moment. The local yellowhammer pair looked slightly put out to have this mini falcon on their patch and postured a bit on the fence beside it. Side by side you could see that the shrike wasn’t really very large – barely bigger than the yellowhammers. On its own and especially in the fog which makes everything look larger, it looked much more substantial. This afternoon, in the sunlight, it looked like a bulky spotted flycatcher.

A second red-backed shrike turned up 300 meters away at Kilminning last thing in the afternoon. It only stayed for about 30 minutes and so I missed it. This one was a male. It will likely be in an insecty corner somewhere nearby. The two shrikes may even end up together. If they were both first year birds without existing breeding territories and mates to go to, and there were enough big insects like grasshoppers – which is the real deal breaker for Fife – they might even stay to breed. Colonisation of new areas is much easier for migrants that end up in so many different places, even when they know where they are going, because of the vagaries of the weather. The easterly winds continue…

Posted May 29, 2018 by wildcrail in Sightings

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