Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great Grey Shrike

A few of these magnificent "butcher birds" turn up in the UK each winter. I heard the other day that there are four in the New Forest, and one or two have been sporadically noted in Cambridgeshire. Look at that hooked beak, great for tearing flesh.
Its congener, the Red-backed Shrike, sadly no longer breeds in Britain, but the fact that it had a nickname - butcher bird, from its habit of storing food by creating "larders" of prey items impaled on thorns - tells us that it was once common.
Today I am going to Little Downham to help with the erection of a Barn Owl box on a pole, but if I can get away soon enough, I am going for a yomp round a part of Haddenham parish where one day I know I will find a Great Grey Shrike. Either that or this will be the twenty-fifth year that I don't.

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