For today’s post there are a few pictures of shrikes I saw in Greece recently.
The shrikes were clearly migrants as I found them using a large area of scrubby ground just yards behind the busy sunbathing beach of Aselinos in the north of Skiathos. On this particular morning there were good numbers of Whinchats and Yellow Wagtails plus 3 Richard’s Pipits and a dozen or more Red-rumped Swallows.
Not far away in a patch of olive grove I found migrant Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Warblers, a (Eastern) Bonelli’s Warbler and a Common Cuckoo.
Birding was quite difficult in Skiathos, not helped by the dawn to dusk bright sunshine and high temperatures in the mid to high eighties for the whole two weeks there. It meant that small passerines stayed deep in shady cover and hirundines remained high in the sky most of the time. In all I clocked up a lowly 35 species in the quite casual birding undertaken in what remained after all a holiday and a wedding celebration, not a pure birding holiday. Like many other Mediterranean destinations, birds are hard to approach.
From Wiki - “The Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio is a carnivorous passerine bird and member of the shrike family Laniidae. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder." This practice has earned it the nickname of "butcher bird." I managed to get pictures of the shrike by using the car as a hide.
“This bird breeds in most of Europe and western Asia and winters in tropical Africa. At one time a common migratory visitor to Great Britain, their numbers declined sharply during the 20th century.
The bird's last UK stronghold was in Breckland but by 1988 just a single pair remained, successfully raising young at Santon Downham. The following year for the first time no nests were recorded in the UK. But since then sporadic breeding has taken place, mostly in Scotland and Wales. In September 2010 the RSPB announced that a pair had raised chicks at a secret location on Dartmoor where the bird last bred in 1970. In 2011, two pairs nested in the same locality, fledging seven young. In 2012 there was another breeding attempt, but no young were fledged this time, probably due to a prolonged spell of wet weather. This return to south western England has been an unexpected development and has raised speculation that a warming climate could assist the bird in re-colonising some of its traditional sites, if only in small numbers.”
There were at least 2 Woodchat Shrikes in the same area, one using much the same perches as the red-backed, and by using the same car-as-a-hide technique I was able to get some shots of this normally very wary species.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator breeds in southern Europe, the Middle East and northwest Africa, and winter in tropical Africa. They breeds in open cultivated country, preferably with orchard trees and some bare or sandy ground. Like other shrikes the Woodchat hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder". This species often overshoots its breeding range on spring migration, and is a rare, but annual visitor to Great Britain.
I’ll leave blog readers with a few images of non-birding Greece. Don’t forget to ‘click the pics’ to join in the action.
On The Bus Skiathos
Arriving - Skopelos
Leaving - Skopelos
Kebabs - Skiathos
No Name Gyros - Skiathos
More soon from Another Bird Blog UK. Be there or be square.