Singing 1st winter
Been looking forward to processing my time on Linosa in early November 2011. I started to write from the island, but limited internet, excellent company, lively discussion of each day’s birds and Italiano cooking every night were too distracting! Linosa is here
More to come on the guys and the birds. There’s is a little story of new learning which began before I left England. Tea time on 30th November I got a phone call from Richard Vernon. Could I have a look at some photos of a shrike in Shropshire, suspected of being rather rare… Though I was gearing up for heading to Linosa, I figured I could just about squeeze it in. Glad I did. Jim Almond sent me a bunch of his photos late evening. Distant bird so he had done well, which meant someone had done very well to winkle out, at long range what looked a very good candidate for pallidrostris (known as Steppe or Saxaul Grey Shrike). I labelled up the photo below and returned. Most importantly the process made me revisit the features of a first winter pallidirostris.
2 days later I was on Linosa looking at another first winter grey shrike
pallidirostis (Steppe) Grey Shrike. Wall Farm, Shropshire. 30th November 2011. © Jim Almond (Shropshire Birder). The white in the tail pattern and primaries in Jim’s photos looked very pro- pallidirostris and I labelled up some other positive features.
6th Record for Europe?
Something like 6th for Europe (Andrea will correct me!). Found by Ottavio Janni when he heard this wacky singing coming from the middle of a bush.
Have a listen. What would you have thought it was?!
recording 1 of subsong of 1st winter Desert Grey Shrike. Listen >HERE<
recording 2 of subsong of 1st winter Desert Grey Shrike. Listen >HERE<
Was keen to see this. I didn’t really know what to expect. Had seen ‘koenigi’ Grey Shrikes (Canaries) before. But what would this one, from North Africa, look like. I was really surprised. It showed a bunch of pallidirostris-like characters! (Hopefully now the earlier waffle makes sense). Igor obtained both recordings and photos. Check his site here
Desert Grey Shrike, Linosa, November 2011 © Igor Maiorano. First things that grabbed me: It’s a first winter Grey Shike. The bill is mahoosive- pallidirostris shaped, being much thicker than Northern excubitor. The lores are grey. The retained juvenile greater coverts have really broad rich rusty-buff tips, the tertials have big white tips and the primaries even look a little longer than typical northern birds (though not as obviously long ass pallidirostris. Fascinating. Certainly made me see how ‘broadly’ at least, the Southern Grey Shrikes (into which pallidirostris is sometimes lumped) are more similar to each other than I realised.
There was a long white patch at base of primaries but also lots of white in the secondaries which looked pretty cool in flight (see below). The 2 types (taxa) in the adjacent part of N. Africa are elegans and algeriensis. While the coastal form algeriensis is nearer, it is dark toned grey, with no white in the secondaries and no white supercilium. With this bird’s white in secondaries, paler grey uppers etc, Andrea Corso, who knows this stuff, thought this bird best fit ‘dodsoni’ the old name applied to the (extensively occurring) intergrades between algeriensis and elegans.
P.S. Following up, found an article by in (Birding World 16 (8): 340-341, about the potential pitfall of algeriensis Desert Grey Shrikes being mistaken for pallidirostris. V. helpful photos of a young algeriensis from nearby Jarbah Island, Tunisia.