1st winter Masked Shrike, Kilnsea, 2nd October 2014
Nearly two weeks ago Britain’s third Masked Shrike (there are a couple of additional records pending), a species of restricted distribution in the eastern Mediterranean, turned up on Spurn. First identified as a Woodchat, it’s true identity was quickly established and it rapidly became one of this autumn’s big twitches – the two previous birds having been in Fife, Scotland a decade ago and a ‘one day wonder’ on Scilly. Unfortunately for us we’d just embarked on a week’s holiday in Dorset and on our return, last weekend, we were busy doing stuff in Norfolk. Today then was our first opportunity to go for the bird and I was extremely relieved when part-way into our four and a half hour drive, the bird was reported as still present in it’s usual hedge!
We parked up and joined a couple of birders in the field from where the Shrike could be observed distantly in the hedge. Over the next hour and a half it did creep nearer but was never close. Great ‘scope views of this first winter bird but no real opportunity to photograph it properly – however that didn’t detract from a cute little bird which was virtually in constant view. A UK ‘lifer’ for me, which repaid the long and anxious wait.
A couple more shots showing the extensive white wing panels/tail sides and the emerging apricot coloured flanks
Finally a photo of a similar looking bird, taken in Eygpt, a couple of years ago
Postcript The Masked Shrike wasn’t seen again after mid-afternoon and appears now to have gone – how lucky was that!