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!
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.
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!