Red-backed Shrike – Thursley Common, Surrey

A male Red-backed Shrike was found at Thursley Common in Surrey on Tuesday 26th June. It remained in the area for several days before disappearing on the Saturday. However, it was re-located 4 days later a few hundred yards to the south. The directions from RBA said it was favouring an enclosure with Belted Galloway cattle but the directions seemed a little vague. I couldn’t go for a few days but with a 121 booked to photograph butterflies at Noar Hill on Wednesday 11th I decided that if the shrike was still present I would combine my 121 with a trip to Thursley which was only 20 minutes further up the road.

Given how vague the directions seemed I found a blog entry online about the bird and got in touch with the blog writer (devilbirder – David Campbell) and he very kindly gave me very good directions including a 14-digit grid reference. David said that someone on the boardwalk had given him good directions and another person just leaving the Belted Galloway enclosure described the perch the shrike was favouring. This was the perch that David subsequently included in his blog photo of the shrike.

After my Noar Hill 121 I headed to Thursley and made my way to the co-ordinates and sure enough managed to locate the characteristic perch shown in David’s photo. Within a few minutes the shrike flew up to the perch and I quickly began sketching.

The shrike subsequently showed very nicely for an hour or so and as normal for shrikes it would sit still for short periods before making sallies to catch insects before returning to its favoured perch. It was last seen on the 26th July making it a very long stayer.

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