Red-backed Shrike – south of Old Town Churchyard, St Mary’s, Scilly

rbshrike

On the first evening of our week on Scilly we managed to get added to the WhatsApp group and we were to find that this would make a huge difference to getting news more quickly.

Our plan for today was to head back to the Dump Clump for better views of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo and hopefully a first sighting of the Red-breasted Flycatcher. Then down to Old Town Churchyard for the Red-eyed Vireo so that Aly and Dad could see it before heading to the Spotted Crake at Lower Moors and the Blue-winged Teal at Porthellick.

We left the flat at around 8:50pm and headed to the Dump Clump, the Red-breasted Flycatcher was reported again at just before 9am which put an extra spring in our step although it wasn’t on show when we arrived. We spent a short while looking for the cuckoo and the flycatcher but drew a blank. The Red-eyed Vireo was reportedly showing well along the track to Old Town Church and so Aly and Dad headed off there and I followed a few minutes later.

While on the walk over there the Red-backed Shrike was reported in the field south of Old Town Church. It hadn’t been seen at all on Monday and was obviously enjoying the better weather and no doubt more insects on the wing. I walked past Old Town Church and passed Aly who was coming back from having seen the shrike and was heading back to see the vireo (which she saw). I joined a line of birders and pretty soon the Red-backed Shrike flicked up into the trees on the opposite side of the field.

It was sheltered and sunny and it fed actively before perching nicely for some sketches. The pale edges to the tertials and greater coverts and the barring on the mantle and scapulars indicate that this was a juvenile or 1st winter bird. Red-backed Shrikes breed as closely as France and winter in tropical Africa. This was my 13th in Britain.

After the Red-backed Shrike I joined Aly and Dad who had seen the vireo by now and shortly afterwards the Yellow-billed Cuckoo was reported again from the Dump Clump. We headed there but there was no sign and no sign of the flycatcher in a brief search. We got in touch with Mum and arranged to meet for some lunch in Hugh Town and as we were finishing news came through that the Spotted Crake had been seen at the northern end of Lower Moors again.

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