The Harrington Woodchat Shrike

When Wellingborough birder John Trimble paid a visit to Harrington Airfield this morning little did he expect to find a national rarity. Perched prominently on a dog rose, just past the first bunker, was a cracking juvenile Woodchat Shrike!

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Harrington Airfield, 20th August 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Harrington Airfield, 20th August 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Harrington Airfield, 20th August 2013 (Bob Bullock)

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Harrington Airfield, 20th August 2013 (Bob Bullock)

This is a long overdue rarity for Northants – overdue since the last one, that is. There have been two previous records of one in spring 1869 at Gore Piece near Duddington and a female said to have been picked up dead near Stamford on 9th January 1883, although the latter is in dispute.

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Harrington Airfield, 20th August 2013 (Mike Alibone)

This is a textbook juvenile. Colder plumage tones than juvenile Red-backed with diagnostic pale-centred scapulars, ghosting those of an adult, and pale base to primaries forming an obvious whitish patch on the closed wing – visible from a great distance.

The bird was very active throughout the afternoon, during which it was much admir’d by a handful of local observers as it fed on a diet of wasps and bees, which it caught on the ground, returning to one of a number of favoured perches to consume its prey.

Nice one, John!

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One Response to The Harrington Woodchat Shrike

  1. Pingback: The Week in Focus: 17th to 23rd August 2013 |

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