A Great Grey Shrike (as they typically do) has been present along the moorland fringe near Sheffield since 28th October. I had the chance to get out and do some birding today. This seemed a good start. I was interested in the bird also because local birder Jim Clarke had made a comments on the Sheffield Bird Study Group website about the amount of white in the wing.
First views, 2 intriguing characters. Extensive white in wing -wow! especially as it dropped to the ground and flew, and pale lores– not black- grey and bit messy. Not black. It was clearly not a Lesser Grey of a Steppe Grey, but still. I wondered about other forms. I was present when a Great Grey Shrike at Flamborough Head several years back led us to explore homeyeri– but it wasn’t. What about this one in front of me? I noted what I could, took a few photos and returned home to look the subject up.
Wow again! Decided I needed to take another look. I don’t know for sure what it is. Seems to show characters of homeyeri. Very little info available on 1st winters of that form. Will try again tomorrow to see it better and find out more!
Here you go. Not great photos but best I could do.
To me it showed:
Big patch of white in secondaries at rest- more obvious in some pics than others certainly striking in the field seemingly exceptional for 1st winter excubitor
White patch at base of primaries seems bit too long for typical excubitor (1st winter)
Big white patch in flight extending well across secondaries
Little white patch above bill base suggesting forthcoming pattern of white here
Tail Pattern closer to homeyeri Great Grey Shrike more than ssp. excubitor
Somewhat slightly more ‘pallid’ tone to grey in field than excubitor – but admittedly subjective
Lores grey- black just reaches in front of eye then stops abruptly – not well shown in pics
It suggest a bird ‘showing characteristics of homeyeri‘. Is it one? I really don’t know. getting info /photos on first winter homeyeri is not easy. Is it just a 1st winter excubitor?– characters seem to suggest not. What about an intergrade? Maybe. More views and photos required. Some questions and learning. Interesting bird nevertheless!
All photos. Black Hill, nr Sheffield. 5th November 2010