A New Feature?
by Martin Garner
Here’s the boy. Balearic Woodchat Shrike was, at one stage considered possibly not identifiable with certainty by BBRC. A thorough review by Brian Small and Grahame Walbridge (read the paper: Balearic Woodchat Shrike paper ) found and affirmed key characters. Some are visible here on this 1st summer male like the rather thick, slightly bulbous bill, the lack of white at the base of the primaries and possibly pertinent the narrow black band on the forehead (though bearing in mind this will get broader in adult plumage. But there is another feature…
2cy male Balearic Woodchat Shrike, Wykeham. North Yorkshire, May 2015. Nick Addey
Critical in separating Eastern Woodchat Shrike (niloticus) from nominate senator is the amount of white in the tail. (Read the paper Eastern Woodchat Shrike paper)
What if the same applies to badius versus senator? I found no reference to this in a quick search of the key literature.
The Wykeham bird appears to have moulted most of its tail (apart from possibly the outermost t6) to black adult type feathers and yet it also appears to lack the prominent white at the base of some of the outer tail feathers. The outermost tail feathers t6 is obscured and may be a juvenile feather, but I would have expected to see at least some white obvious at the bases of say t5 and t4 if the pattern had been the same as nominate senator (BWP says bases of t2-t5 are white with almost half the feather on t4 being white and much of base of t5 also white). Instead the tail looks essentially all dark.
The tail looks black and does not appear to be a retained juvenile tail- apart from perhaps the outermost feather t6? But then in flight you can see the more extensive grey over the uppertail coverts with small white rump patch and all dark-looking tail (T6 is mostly hidden under t5).
Ideally I would need to review specimens and see more inflight spread tails of various Woodchat taxa. What do you think? Go ahead have your say...
Compare with this bird recently on the Isles of Scilly- a male nominate senator taken by Martin Goodey.
Eastern Woodchat- niloticus
and to complete the set- the even more extensive white at the base of the tail feathers found in niloticus– very rare in NW Europe with no British records… yet!
Notice also the BIG white area over rump and uppertial coverts of niloticus.