October 27th   Leave a comment

Yesterday lunchtime John Anderson found a red-backed shrike at Upper Kilminning. He phoned me just as I had started a four hour teaching session so there was no chance of seeing it that day. There was some nail biting on my part because although red-backed shrikes are worth seeing, at this time of year “red-backed” shrikes are much more likely to be one of the sister species from Central Asia, which are very rare indeed. It turned out to be “just” a red-backed shrike, so I could relax a bit, especially as when finishing work at five there was no light left to see it with the clocks going back over the weekend. Anyway, there was rain and mostly cloud overnight so there was a reasonable chance of it staying put. Sure enough, this morning I saw it about 7:30 in the sycamores at Kilminning where it was found the day before. A very obliging bird, catching flies and large insects (I saw it eating a wasp) along the edge of the trees and frequently perching on dead branches in full view. Sometimes a late or early season shrike can behave like a large warbler, staying in cover because there are no flying insects to catch. I was glad of the opportunity to think about late season red-backed shrikes and what you need to see on them to identify them. Like most things, not too tricky when you know how, but without any experience a bit daunting. Once again, having photos makes it easy. The shrike was about all day today and may well be here tomorrow. Best seen along the trees on the west side of the road down to lower Kilminning, about 50 meters from the entrance, where there is an open grassy area between the road and the largest area of tarmac.

In context
And to enjoy (JA)

Posted October 27, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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