8 Jun 2021

Red-backed Shrike, Meols

 Red-backed Shrikes are surprisingly rare in Cheshire so when David Haig found an adult male at Meols I was keen to try and see it. I've seen 3 previous Red-backed Shrikes in Cheshire but only one has been an adult male.  They used to be regular breeders in the UK but died out around 1987/8 when I remember watching the last regular Breckland breeding pair in Santon Downham country park car park whilst rocking my baby daughters pram in one hand and holding my binoculars in the other! They were nesting in a large prickly bush in the centre of the car park marked off with red and white striped tape! 

Since then they've still been a regular passage migrant but usually along the east coast and the northern isles and I've seen them at sites such as Spurn or on the Shetlands in autumn. More recently a few pairs have started breeding again in a couple of locations in the UK. 

The Meols bird was always distant but showed well using a fence post as a lookout to launch itself after an unsuspecting beetle or bee. 

I even managed a short video of it flying up to catch a bee before landing a bit further away to eat it:

The last one I saw in Cheshire was a female in roughly the same place a few years ago but prior to that the last one was 2010 when a confiding juvenile turned up at Frodsham. See here: here

Any shrike is always a nice bird to see and to have an adult male Red-backed Shrike turn up 30 minutes up the Wirral was a real bonus! 

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