Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not an easy shrike!

This morning I was ringing at Ashdod. While opening the nets up in light rain and heavy cloud cover, it was apparent there's a great migrant fall happening in real-time! The were many vocal migrants calling (pipits, wagtails etc.) and I could actually see birds dropping out of the sky and crashing into the reeds a few minutes before first light!
And indeed a busy morning it was, with 170 birds ringed. There was a very strong fall of Willow Warblers (113 birds!). Lots of grey, long-winged birds among them with at least 6 yekutensis! Also good numbers of Bluethroats (19) especially early in the morning, and 16 Chiffchaffs were most welcome too. But star bird of the morning was an 'Isabelline' Shrike - my first for Ashdod, and actually the first good rarity I catch there. As always with Issy Shrikes, this bird bit very hard, much stronger than its sissy red-backed cousins...
This bird shows some pro-phoenicuroides features, including reddish crown contrasting to a greyer mantle, whitish below with bold flank streaks, contrasting pattern to median and greater coverts. But identifying 1cy's is very challenging and I wouldn't stick my neck out for this bird. Would be interested to get some feedback on it. Nevertheless a fine bird it is!

Rea was very happy with it:

After releasing the bird we saw it catch a Willow Warbler and carry it in its talons. What an agressive bird!
Another good bird was this Moustached Warbler - my first for the season:

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