homeyeri Great Grey Shrike

Norfolk

Some lively discussion via email last night and on phone today with top Norfolk birding buddies Andy Stoddart and Mark Golley. Marcus Nash had flagged up the Fakenham Great Grey Shrike and both Andy and Mark had independently gone to see the bird; both very impressed – “outside expected appearance of excubitor Great Grey Shrike”.  They returned today and others went including James McCallum.  I am delighted!  They say it appears to have homeyeri tail pattern and a remarkable amount of white across primaries and secondaries.  Sounds very much like the Sheffield bird (see here, here and here).  I am pleased as I really wanted others to see what the Sheffield bird looked like. Now they (you) can!  Been sent plenty of ‘interesting’ Great Grey Shrike images since the Sheffield bird most of which look to be just nominate birds with white in secondaries.  The Norfolk bird seems to have a set of characters that may well put it outside of the range of nominate excubitor.  Of course as with all these things don’t listen to the naysayers, go and have a look yourself.  Remember these things are not fully defined and we are still learning...

Here’s Andy’s  list of features shown by the Norfolk bird:

  • Overall pallid appearance
  • Upperparts a clean pale grey
  • Short to medium primary projection similar to excubitor
  • Large white blurry scapular patches
  • Paler greyish-white rump and uppertail coverts, paler than upperparts
  • Pale greyish lores with dark line along lower edge
  • Pale pinky hues in bill base
  • Subtle brown hue on forehead
  • Subtle underpart vermiculations
  • Very large rectangular white primary patch, approximately half the length of the exposed secondaries
  • On closed wing a ‘second wing patch’ formed by conjunction of narrow white tips to greater coverts and white bases to secondaries
  • In flight extensive white bases to all secondaries (ie reaching scapulars), forming a continuous broad band and showing little or no ‘step’ where secondaries meet primaries
  • Massive amounts of white in the tail sides equating to a completely white T6 and an apparently completely white T5 (though any black on the basal inner web of T5 would be hard to see on the views), restricting the dark tail centre to a diamond shape.

These features aren’t listed in order of significance and some are, of course, merely indicators of its age.

In terms of the bird’s overall appearance it is superficially reminiscent of pallidirostris (pallid appearance, bland face, large primary patch) but clearly not that form on wing structure. Overall, I would say it looked pretty much exactly like the Sheffield bird, only with an even bigger primary patch.

photos by Andy Stoddart.

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About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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One Response to homeyeri Great Grey Shrike

  1. Pingback: My Bird Year List 2011 - Page 34 - Wild About Britain

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