Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Shrike One! - Red Backed Shrike, Plymouth

June 7th and after a busy day at work I was settling down to watch Pointless on the TV when I decided to have a quick look at the bird sightings pages on the internet. Nothing much on the DBWPS page or on Wildlife in Devon but there on Birdguides was a report of a male red backed shrike at Chelson Meadow in Plymouth just 90 minutes previously - what! Binoculars and camera grabbed and off I went with all thoughts of watching Pointless gone!

Walking from Laira Bridge to Chelson Meadow and 2 painted lady butterflys feeding on red valerian by the footpath briefly stalled me from my main objective but I quickly carried on to the area where the shrike had been seen. On arrival I scanned around but there was no sign of it but common blues, yellow shells, burnet companions, singing skylarks, cooing stock doves, a singing willow warbler and swallows and house martins collecting mud from a small puddle kept me occupied in the hot sunshine.

I thought I could make out a bird half hidden in some willow trees in the distance but on heading over to them I lost sight of it and thought I had imagined it. However on checking a nearby wooden fence I first saw a skylark and then further along the fence there it was - a stunning male red backed shrike!

Red Backed Shrike

It looked a little wary and soon flew off towards the willows where I lost track of it. Waiting patiently I kept an eye out for it but without success until a group of swallows began making a noise and swooping over some nearby bushes and there it was again, giving some lovely views as it was mobbed by the swallows and watched closely by nearby goldfinches, greenfinches and a female blackcap.

 Red Backed Shrike

Red Backed Shrike

It soon tired of the fuss and noise and flew off again back towards the willows before reappearing a bit later on top of a gorse bush where again it was mobbed by swallows overhead.

Red Backed Shrike

It was mostly wary and mobile with the views mostly distant and difficult at times in the harsh light but it was lovely to watch it swooping down to the ground chasing after insects before returning to its perch. An absolutely gorgeous looking bird and a pleasant end to the day - I certainly wasn't bored now!

No comments:

Post a Comment