Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Red-backed Shrike

I have been watching the reports of the juvenile Red-backed Shrike for the past three days. I wanted to see the bird but I did not want to get involved with the crowds that tend to gather for anything unusual. It's a fine balancing act, leaving time for the crowds to dissipate but not leaving it too long in case the bird leaves as well. When we set off for Rottingdean this morning I thought we had probably blown this one but it was still worth a look.

To our surprise this turned out to be a real result. One birder just leaving as we arrived; the bird showing well and only about twenty yards away; perfect conditions for photography; and two hours with Dave and me as the only people watching it.

Searching for food

Lovely bird to photograph

Caught a number of bees

Taking a rest

Posing for pictures


Pulling the wings and legs off

A tasty morsel - one of many

No fear of people

 We were not the only ones exited by the Shrike. Some of the local Whitethroats clearly did not want it on their patch. This aggressive male chased it away from one of its favourite perches but stayed well clear of that beak.

Aggressive Whitethroat enjoying his captured perch

The Shrike seemed more interested in feeding than fighting as did most of the other Whitethroats. They seemed to have switched from an insect to a berry diet and were busy feeding on the Blackberries.

Whitethroat fattening up on the blackberries

I usually reckon on a success rate of about one good picture in every hundred shots taken. Today I came away with more than twenty shots worth keeping, I saw a great bird close up, and got a life tick for this country. By any standard that makes it a good days birding.

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