Monday, September 23, 2013


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. 

Red-backed Shrike

“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.” 

Red-backed Shrike

 Red-backed Shrike
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

Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike

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.


stephen Hayes said...

Beautiful pictures. Sorry I don't have the opportunity to leave more comments but your post is great.

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Hi Phil a great iinformative post with excellent photos. And those Kebabs!! Hugh!! I am sure they tasted delicious.

Joanne Olivieri said...

First, those birds are just adorable and what great captures. I like the red backed shrike.

Being of Greek descent, I have always wanted to travel to Greece. It's on my bucket list :) Beautiful photographs.

Beppan said...

Fantastic photos of besutiful birds. Interesting to read about them also!

Unknown said...

Great shots of those shrikes!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Heather Wilde said...

Birding and kebabs - fabulous combination :)

carol l mckenna said...

wonderful photos of beautiful birds and Greece looks very inviting ~ great shots ~ carol ^_^

Christian Perrin said...

Lovely photos of the shrikes! I walked the Camino de Santiago a few years back and Woodchat Shrikes dotting the landscape (especially the olive orchards) is a pleasant memory.

eileeninmd said...

What a pretty place. The birds are cool too. Love the Shrikes, especially the Woodchat. Another great post on Greece, I am sitting here wishing I could be there. Have a happy week ahead, Phil!

Fun60 said...

Looks like its a holiday home for migrating birds as well as the tourists. Great close ups.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

The Cuckoo is marvelous, and those Shrikes all have such interesting looks to them. Their beaks are quite unique as well. You have taken us on a very nice adventure as you have shown us this beautiful island paradise. I adore Gyros, if they are made with real roasted lamb and beef, and not chicken and pork~

TexWisGirl said...

both shrikes and the cuckoo are very cool looking birds!

Unknown said...

Beautiful photos of both birds and scenery. The white houses are so pretty.

Karen said...

Awesome Shrike captures Phil! Love the Cuckoo, I have never seen one. Oh, I do hope you sampled a kabob or two while you were there!

Dave said...

Great Post, love the Cuckoo..... stunning image. good job with the location images aswell..... I could murder a kebab right now!

Arija said...

So wonderful to be able to travel and see the bird life.
Great shots too.

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