Fakenham Great Grey Shrike update

Neither one nor the other

Yesterday I viewed with others a fuller set of photos of the Fakenham Great Grey Shrike. It was possible for the first time to see full details of the degree of white at the base of the inner secondaries and in the tail pattern. Ideally there should be no ‘step’ in the white pattern but continuous broad band of white running between secondaries and primaries. There is an obvious step on this bird. Furthermore the tail pattern does not have enough white for convincing homeyeri pattern. Frustrating, but a great chance to learn.

Other features, I think, still make it outstanding from excubitor, so it remains a fascinating bird, but not enough to bag a full homeyeri I think.

Is it ‘just’ a Grey Grey Shrike (nominate excubitor) then? No IMO (I kind of want to say, no way!) – For someone to say it just an excubitor would be to imply they had fully studied the limits of plumage characters of excubitor extensively and from across the range. The evidence I think is still compelling that there are nevertheless a number of pro-homeyeri characters on the bird. A Birding ID Frontier, with much to be discovered! Best label for the bird is perhaps an intergrade.

Still fascinating, still much to learn from it, still worth seeing.

Have a great New Year Year’s eve.

P.S. Result of the mystery bird call after New Years Day…

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About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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5 Responses to Fakenham Great Grey Shrike update

  1. A recent Norwegian bird that fulfills most requirements:
    http://www.artsobservasjoner.no/artportalen/gallery/Image.aspx?rappsyst=0&obsID=9837881&imageID=230865
    Personally I think clinching homeyeri remains a challange, and in a sense it would be fair to say that we are accepting the phenotype rather than the geographical origin. It would be interesting to get a better hold of the variation on the breeding grounds. Not easy to find good photos though…

  2. Looking at the photos on Magnus’s link and Kevin DuRose’s, there seems to be more white in the Norwegian birds wing but the pattern seems very similar… delayed moult maybe on the Fakenham bird. The white in the undertail on Ashley Banwell’s looks extensive. I really want to view this bird in the flesh (feather).
    I wouldn’t yet want to rule anything in or out… whatever. GGS is a stunning bird.

  3. Got to see the Fakenham Shrike yesterday with The Llama and The Hooded Birder. I have to say it’s a pretty interesting and like all Shrikes, impressive bird. I think we were all struck by just how pallid it looked and by the huge white scaps. Admittedly the white wing patches don’t look as impressive as some homeyeri but it did tick a number of boxes. I guess it would be good to try and seek some opinion from any Russian authorities on Shrikes – there are a few I’m sure – on the plumage variation in homeyeri as well as excubitor. I did take some video footage but I doubt it will add much to the debate.
    If anyone knows how to view video frame by frame in windows I’d be happy to learn as there’s one section where it takes off which might allow me to do some video grabs.

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