Thursday, 15 September 2016

Red-backed Shrike Beer Head

At the beginning of every year, for as long as I can remember, there are three birds that we all always say "we must get this year!". Red-rumped Swallow, Black-winged Stilt and Red-backed Shrike.  Now at last, one of those species can be removed from that list...

Just as I was setting off to join Kevin (Bun) up Beer Head, he phoned with news he had a Red-backed Shrike on the Summit bushes. Excellent...

And about twenty minutes later the world was a better place...






A really beautifully coloured example of one too - such a gorgeous bird and so so overdue.  It looked very settled as it had found quite a sheltered spot and was finding plenty of food, so if you want to come up and see it hopefully this map will help...



And here's a tiny bit of video. Very tiny...




Not only am I delighted for Bun, and my patch list, but also for Beer Head.  There is a keen team of us that daily/weekly/yearly spend hours upon hours trudging over this place ever hoping for something like this. Although we have had some scarcities and a couple of rarities over the years (no one mention the Cuckoo), it never feels like we get quite what our effort deserves. So Bun, if you don't mind, this one is for us...

Seemed to be a heck of a lot up Beer Head this morning, I was only here for an hour and had 80+ Mipits, 2 Tree Pipits, 6 Wheatear, a few Chiffs and my first 'vis mig' Siskins (6+) of the autumn.  I wouldn't be surprised is something else decent is unearthed here later today.

Although all the local birders need Red-backed Shrike for their patch lists (or did!), it's not a new bird for the patch. I'm sure like many other south coast sites, this species formally bred here, with confirmed nesting in the mid 60's. There's been at least one other more recent record as well, but not recent enough for any of us to have seen!

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