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Saturday, 7 June 2014

Smart female Red- backed Shrike at Corton

On Thursday 5th June, a tweet from James B (another really great find from Craig at Corton!) had me scuttling over to the old Corton Sewage works compound so often a hotspot for rarities. This evening added to its fine tally as I walked down the Lane west of the compound I joined Andrew E, Paul & Jane F and a newly arrived Rob H. A very smart female Red- backed Shrike was perched on the fence. Often in close proximity to 2 Greenfinches also perched on the same wire or the one below. She perched like a sentinel and from here hunting foraying were launched on the weeds below just north of the perimeter wire and she would often return with a juicy beetle which ws promptly and gratefully devoured. Basically whew was reddish brown above with grey brown mantle and being more reddy- brown on the wings and a pale huffish cream below but qualified by a steel grey hooked bill. She had a darker brownish band extending back from the eye onto the rear of the ear coverts, a thin cream line provided the differentiation between the bottom of the crown and rear ear covert band. Brownish barring on the breast upper chest and flank sides. A really smart bird. She wouldn't allow a close approach so after all the others left, I skirted the fence keeping well in right by the fence and when she flew from a hunting foray to the eastern most fence I walked along hard in along the northern fence line and was able to get a little closer. Keeping strictly to the northern fence line without disturbing the bird I took shots through the wire. I often find this tactic works well in stalking birds without disturbing them and this proved the case here, too. She hunted from the middle of the compound before returning to the northern fence line where I watched her for a while before I eventually left her (it was now starting to cloud over and we were losing the brilliant sunshine which we had enjoyed previously).

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