Woodchat Shrike on Gower

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


This past weekend we were treated to the arrival of a true rarity on Gower in the shape of a female Woodchat Shrike. The call first went up on Tuesday after a sighting along the fences near Sluxton farm on the Rhossili downs. By the time I had heard about it night had fallen so it was not until Wednesday evening that I had time to get out to have a look for myself. Things got off to a great start with a couple of Yellowhammers along the nearby telegraph wires and a lovely family of recently fledged Swallows sitting on a nearby house. The number of Meadow Pipits was also impressive, with seemingly every individual either defending territory or carrying beak fulls of insects back to their well concealed nests. Unfortunately, after an hour or so search I could not locate the Shrike. Fearing that the bird had moved on I left at least satisfied with the Yellowhammer given that this is a species I see all to rarely.

But no. Thursday saw further reports so Friday evening I was back. This time I had a definite location to search so I staked out a vigil for the next hour or so in the hope that I would be rewarded. I was briefly joined by a few birders from the 'Birders in Boxers' blog who were having no better luck and continued further on across the downs. I was now caught in one of those awkward situations. I needed to get back home but I could almost guarantee that the moment I left the Shrike would be out and the others would get to see it. Despite my fears I left and as predicted the Shrike put in an appearance not long after.

Determined not to be beaten I was back by Saturday lunchtime and as fate would have it almost immediately caught a sighting on the telegraph wires at the exact same location that I had been staking out the night before. The Shrike sat in full view for a good ten minutes allowing a couple of distant photographs before flying off into some nearby gorse and being lost from view. Over the next half an hour I got just the occasional glimpse which probably explains the difficulty that people have been having in their searches. The day was topped off nicely with a male Siberian Stonechat, another first for me.

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