Category Archives: 20) Shrikes to Babblers

Turkestan Shrike in the Netherlands

First Calendar Year at Castricum

There have already been several Isabelline Shrikes this autumn- some creating lively debate about whether there are one form or the other. We might look at a few of the others. First off this very interesting one.

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Luc Knijnsberg

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Luc Knijnsberg

OK I know it might be pushing it to put a definite name to it. This bird has caused some head scratching. There will hopefully be definitive DNA analysis and claiming it as a ‘definite’ Turkestan – well wouldn’t it just be better to keep you’re head down? To me it’s very similar to one of the individuals we feature in The Challenge Series: AUTUMN – here on Flamborough (at Buckton). That bird was also identified as a 1cy Turkestan.

Making mistakes. Trying and sometime getting it wrong- but still pushing the boat out and having a go. It’s what it’s all about!

So enter Hans Schekkerman, with photos from Cees de Vries  and Luc Knijnsberg (and thanks to them). I understand after more views they are mostly pro-Turkestan. Here’s what Hans wrote on the first day:

“Hi Martin,

Today (13th Nov) a 1st winter Isabelline shrike was trapped and ringed at Castricum, Netherlands.  A set of photo’s by Cees de Vries can be found at http://waarneming.nl/waarneming/view/95333564 .

Here is a translation of the comment I posted with the record:

This species is as difficult in the hand as in the field! … First-winter with completely juvenile wing … In the sunlight it appeared to me more like Daurian, but in the shadow it reminded more strongly of Turkestan (Red-tailed).

Pro-phoenicuroides: (1) mask rather dark and contrasting (but with some gingery wash); (2) clear off-white supercilium (though extending well behind eye only on the right side), with some buffy wash only above the lore; (3) rather stronk dark barring on crown, rump, uppertail-cov and even some on lower mantle; (4) underparts mainly whitish, contrasting rather strongly with upperside.

Pro-isabellinus: (5) there was some clear buffish/orange wash on flanks (particularly on those feathers with brown chevrons) and also on the central belly; (6) this wash faintly continued up the breast-sides and onto the cheeks, that were not entirely white even directly under the mask; (7) tail fairly bright rufous with only a little bit darker centrals and not much darkening distally; (8) in sunlight, warmer ‘gingery’brown tinge to upperparts (almost invisible in shade).

 Centres of juv median coverts were neither whitish nor orange but dark brown, with even darker subterminal line and warm-brown edge.

 Any opinion on this bird would be greatly appreciated.

Best wishes, Hans Schekkerman”

So I say the DNA will make it a Turkestan- phoenicuroides- the rarer of the two regularly identified forms of ‘Isabelline Shrike’ which turn up in NW Europe. It’s not the easiest example and in some of the photos- brighter sunlight causes it to morph into something looking a little more akin to a Daurian Shrike. The Buckton bird did exactly the same - morphing in sunlight. I think the flat ‘overcast’ light depicts it more accurately.

Most of the features fit the details described and illustrated for Turkestan in The Challenge Series: AUTUMN.

What do you say it is? Place yer bets.

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Luc Knijnsberg

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Luc Knijnsberg

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1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Luc Knijnsberg

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Luc Knijnsberg

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 20114. Cees de Vries

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 20114. Cees de Vries

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Cees de Vries

1st winter Isabelline Shrike, Castricum, Netherlands, 13th November 2014. Cees de Vries

The variety of photos in different light shows how the plumage tones ‘morph’ to see degree. Overcast flat light is best.

Thanks especially to Grahame Walbridge for much excellent input on this and others Issy Shrikes.

Mystery Shrike from Inner Mongolia, China

By Terry

Every once in a while, a birder comes across something that baffles.. It happens to me more often than I’m happy to admit. During a recent trip to northern Hebei and southern Inner Mongolia in China to check out the breeding location of satellite-tagged Amur Falcons (more on that later), Paul Holt and I found an unusual shrike. We never saw it particularly well – it was very skittish – and, given time constraints, we had to leave the site before we could secure the views that we would have liked and the quality of photos that would have helped..

Nevertheless, given that we were puzzled by this bird, I am publishing here our photos and a short video in the hope that someone can help us ID this strange-looking creature.

Shrike sp. (Nanhaoqian reservoir near Shangyi, Nei Mongol)(2)

Shrike sp, near Shangyi, Inner Mongolia, 10 October 2014. Note the scaling on the underparts.  Photo by Paul Holt.

2014-10-09 shrike sp

Shrike sp, near Shangyi, Inner Mongolia, 10 October 2014. The dark wings and pale wing bar are consistent with Long-tailed Shrike.

A short video can be seen here – Shrike sp, Nei Mongol

The video is a little over-exposed, making the bird appear paler than it actually was. Neither the video nor our (few) photographs really do justice to the following:

– overall coffee brown colour, slightly ‘greyer’ on the back of the head and very subtly more rufous on the scapulars

– tail mostly and conspicuously black with white on the outer-tail feathers. When alighting rather small, white, crescentic tips to the bird’s three outermost tail feathers were clearly visible

– narrow and rather faint scaling on the underparts (just visible in Paul’s photo)

On the first, very brief view, I instinctively thought it was a Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius scach). The black tail and wing pattern fitted this species. However we soon had some issues with this ID.

First, the overall colouration seemed wrong. Second, the scaling of the underparts didn’t seem to fit this species. Third, the white in the tail didn’t fit either. And finally, the range of Long-tailed Shrike – this would almost certainly be the most northerly ever record of Long-tailed Shrike in China (it is still a rarity, albeit one that’s increasing, in Beijing but it does breed in southern Hebei).

Personally, I also thought that the bird wasn’t big enough for Long-tailed (it’s a large shrike) and the tail didn’t appear long enough either but, in the absence of a direct comparison, this view is subjective.

So we are baffled. Is it just an aberrant Long-tailed Shrike? We think not. A hybrid? Or something else? Answers on a postcard, please…

 

Nine of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

One of the chapters covers two or three types of the Isabelline Shrikes that reach northern and western Europe in autumn. Daurian Shrike, Turkestan Shrike and that funny grey one from the north…

For more on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

OUCH!!!

 

adult male Daurian Shrike, December Yosef. Kiat

adult male Daurian Shrike, December Yosef. Kiat

Indian Grey Shrike

The feedback from the images taken by Prasad Ganpule of an interesting looking presumed Asian Grey Shrike has been excellent.

See especially these comments by Brian Small and Graham Walbridge.

To compare. Typical lahtora showing amount of white in wings.

Asian Grey Shrike, ssp. lahtora. at Jamnagar, Gujarat, by S.P. Jadeja

Asian Grey Shrike, ssp. lahtora. at Jamnagar, Gujarat, by S.P. Jadeja

 

Prasad’s extra-white-in-the-wing lahtora type

Picture-16-2-2014 182

Asian Grey Shrike ID

A Letter From India

Prasad Ganpule

Hello Martin I read with great interest the various articles on grey shrikes on Birding Frontiers. They are very informative. I saw a shrike in February in Desert National Park, Rajasthan, India which we could not identify with certainty. I am attaching some images of this here. The white in wings is too much for lahtora or pallidirostris , the only two grey shrikes occurring in India. Could it be any form of Great Grey Shrike or something else ? Your help is very much appreciated. Thanking you, Prasad Ganpule

Prasad, clearly a sharp observer of birds,  previously wrote about taimyrensis like large white-headed gulls, with accompanying superb photos. We previously published these two photos here and there is a much fuller Birding Frontiers post on Desert and Asian Grey Shrikes. Picture-16-2-2014 169Picture-16-2-2014 182 Below more photos of the same bird. The bird is an adult and the general plumage pattern is like Asian Grey Shrike lahtora as might be expected from the location. However it definitely looks rather more pallid grey above than the darker grey of typically described for lahtora and the length of white at the base of the primaries and perhaps also the amount of white in the secondaries is even more than normally described for lahtora. Variation in lahtora or another explanation? Don’t forget there is the strange case of the lahtora Asian Grey Shrike in Norfolk, England (scroll down to end). Check out the expected pattern of white for lahtora via links below From Prasad:

Some links to illustrate the usually seen wing pattern in lahtora in India.
and HERE
.
The date / place is almost similar.

This one – though taken in October, is similar to the above bird.  

go HERE and

go HERE

other links for lahtora in flight are HERE and HERE

This was the reason the bird seen by me generated debate here.

With Best Regards, Prasad.   Picture-16-2-2014 181 Picture-16-2-2014 160 Picture-16-2-2014 159 Picture-16-2-2014 155 .

Mystery Grey Shrike

to be continued…

Here’s a couple of photos of a ‘Great/ Southern/Desert’ etc etc Grey Shrike photographed in February this year.

These are fascinating and quite beautiful birds. Certain individuals don’t always fit described forms, and the whole group has taxonomic uncertainty written over it all it. Surely these Grey Shrikes are a frontier?

For now please have a look and if you think you know what it is, that is what form or taxa it might be- please say. No I’m not saying where it was photographed :)

Picture-16-2-2014 169 Picture-16-2-2014 182

Five Bee-eaters and a Red-backed Shrike

at Flamborough

Of course lots more here and you may have already heard. We got some proper spring colour today on the East Yorkshire Coast:

More (nicer) photos and news on the Flamborough Bird Obs website

Come on cough it up! the hard bits of insects don't digest very well a and get regurgitated.

Come on cough it up! the hard bits of insects don’t digest very well a and get regurgitated.

male Red-backed Shrike added value to an already cool day

male Red-backed Shrike added value to an already cool day