Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Shrike's short tale

Lesser Grey Shrike, Spurn Point, East Yorks, 01.10.05. © Josh Jones.

It was inevitable I suppose; a Lesser Grey Shrike sat on Spurn head with no tail, deemed unfit to carry on and try and get back on track with its migration, sat there for a week no less and we had not paid it a visit. Something had to give.

In the end it was our nerve and a rather hurried pace from south Lincs saw us at the head in 3 hours, ably driven by Chris Orders (thanks Chris!) this afternoon. Stephen Menzie was our ‘man on the ground’ and had been all morning and some of the afternoon; he informed us that a) it looked like a Hamster on the deck and a Bat in flight and b) it had gone missing since 1.30pm. Things weren’t looking good when we rolled up at just before 5pm.

Thankfully some twitchers informed us the blighter was sat on the beach and had been for just the last half an hour! Nice! We made our way to join two other birders and watched the Shrike having a whale of time with wasps on the tide line before jumping onto the various bricks and wire on the edge of the dunes.Lesser Grey Shrike, Spurn Point, East Yorks, 01.10.05. © Will Bowell

The other birders left us and we managed to get reasonably close to the Shrike without flushing it. Eventually after about 15 minutes it decided to go for another feed on the beach. After getting what ever it was after it landed on a bush. Chris, who was behind the wandering birders whistled to draw our attention to a Kestrel hovering above it. Little did he know that seconds later the Shrike would be letting out a loud ‘chack’ as the Kes squashed it!

We didn’t see it fly off with it, but on the other hand didn’t see the Shrike fly off either, we ran like mad to the spot in the hope of being able to scare the Kestrel off it’s victim. Alas there was no sign, just a pile of feathers!

Lesser Grey Shrike feathers, Deeping St James, Lincs, 01.10.05. © Will Bowell

There of course has been no further sign of the Shrike and we couldn’t find any remains. You can’t help but feel sorry for the poor Shrike, especially when the tail actually looked like it might have been growing back. Guess it looked just too much like a rodent for the Kes to resist!

Besides the Shrike, the wandering birders have been up to quite a bit of twitching and a full report of what we have seen will follow soon.