09 June, 2013

Encounters of the Shrike Kind

I'll have a hard time forgetting a memorable encounter with this stonking male Red-backed Shrike, one of four to be frequenting Fair Isle during late May. All were very mobile, and would pop up anywhere, any time. This particular bird completely blindsided me by the Haa, a croft who's occupants have gained celebrity status over the years for their ability to attract ridiculously tame Waxwings to feed out of their hands.

The Shrike flew in from nowhere, and perched in full view for a couple of minutes, not appearing to give even a little bit of a shit at me being just a few metres away from it. He then started to do a bit of fly-catching, slowly moving further up the road, before perching on a wooden fence and beginning to sing. You couldn't make this stuff up.

Apparently this, or another male had been catching, beheading, and eating the heads of tired Hirundines down on the beach that very morning... mad stuff.


Ragged Robin said...

Superb photos :) Very envious of your shrike sighting :)

Its been on my wish list for donkey's years ever since reading about it in the Observer's book of birds!!!!

Billy Dykes said...

Many thanks. Stunning birds.. I hope you catch up with them soon!