Great Grey Shrike?

I would welcome any thoughts about what this bird is. A couple of knowledgeable friends have suggested a Great Grey Shrike. This would indeed be a unique siting if it is. I saw the bird at 15 30 on the 12th of December 2020 at the location pin drop.

Many thanks Helen

9 thoughts on “Great Grey Shrike?

  1. I was drawn to this bird initially by its light colouration but subsequently by its behaviour. There were lots of other small birds around at the time all of whom flew off as I approached but this one played hide and seek for quite a while just hopping a little further away each time. It was bigger than a sparrow, smaller than a starling and had great confidence and presence in the way it behaved.

  2. I don’t think you’ll ever get a definitive answer with a photo of that quality, Helen. Was that the only one you took? I can see why GGs was suggested as the pattern of eye mask and light and dark on body and wings looks similar but I don’t think this is right. Leaving aside the extremely unlikely habitat of a small green space between modern housing – I know the location well – the tail looks too short. GGS is notably bigger than a starling, not smaller as you say – GGS is about the size of a Mistle Thrush. In general, you might like to join a Facebook group where identification queries are answered, like British Birdwatching for Beginners. There’s also a South Wales Birding group.

    If you do ever think you see something really unusual, it would be best to post the information at once, not weeks later, so other could try and see it if they agreed with the identification. Of course, right now, no one should be travelling for birding, but in ‘normal times’.

    Do you live in that development?

  3. Hi Paul
    thank you for your response. The photo was taken on my phone and is poor quality and I didn’t get another. When I looked at images of the Great Grey Shrike I agree the tail on this bird is too short. I am intrigued, its behaviour was unusual, my first thought was an escaped captive bird.
    I have watched birds all my life, I am more interested in behaviour really but identification is rewarding too.

    The delay was due to the fact that birding friends said they would post the picture the next day but were unable to access the site, and didn’t let me know.Now I am able to post there won’t be a delay. I would like to join a group, I will follow up on the groups you suggest.
    I don’t live on that development, but I like walking there, a couple of years ago I saw a common tern in the bay, confirmed when I looked up the siting which had been registered by a number of others. With the “shrike” this was not the case, behaviourally it fits the bill not the right tail and definitely not as big as a thrush.Grrr.
    I live in Gilfach Goch so fortunately in these times I still have a wonderful environment in which to walk.
    All the best and thanks again for your comment.

    Helen

    1. You’re welcome! The Merlin smartphone app and web site can make good suggestions for ID from a reasonable image even if not perfect. Your bird could be an escape, or a common bird with a degree of leucism (or disease) resulting in areas of white feathers.

      I asked if you live there because every year I count all the House Martin nests I can find in the Cardiff Bay area and the Windsor Quay area is one of the locations, although numbers there are now very low compared to when I started. Just 5 last year compared to a peak of 51 in 2015.

  4. Yes, I also wondered about discolouration like I have seen in blackbirds. I didn’t know that is was an indication of poor health. That could account for the birds unusual behaviour.
    It is so sad and shocking how bird numbers are decreasing. I have always had house Martins nesting in the eaves of my house. This year house sparrows occupied the two nests before the Martins returned. When they did there was a battle and the sparrows won and raised two broods. I missed the house martins being so close as I could hear the young at night, they almost purr.
    Helen

    1. Yes, I also wondered about discolouration like I have seen in blackbirds. I didn’t know that is was an indication of poor health. That could account for the birds unusual behaviour. I have just googled black and white canary, I think that may be what it was,poor little thing.
      It is so sad and shocking how bird numbers are decreasing. I have always had house Martins nesting in the eaves of my house. This year house sparrows occupied the two nests before the Martins returned. When they did there was a battle and the sparrows won and raised two broods. I missed the house martins being so close as I could hear the young at night, they almost purr.
      Helen

  5. Nicholas King

    About 45 years ago I can recall someone reliable saying they had seen a shrike in the land east of the Hampton Court Road allotments!

  6. John Wilson

    I agree not a Great Grey Shrike but am mystified as to what it might be. The black collar round the back of the neck and as Paul says, the short tail, rule out GGS. Also as Paul says, ther habitat is totally wrong. The occasional regular ones we get in our area are usually up in clearfell forestry e.g. above Llwyn-on Rerservoir. As to size, GGS is listed in the Collins guide as 21-26 cms in length, whereas Mistle Thrush is 26-29 cms, so biggest GGS just about equals smallest Mistle Thrush. Surprisingly we don’t seem to have had a GGS yet this winter despite the v cold current weather, although of course the current restrictions mean that folk can’t/shouldn’t be able to get up to the usual haunts to check.

  7. Thanks to Nicholas King and John Wilson for your interest and comments, I think it is looking less and less likely that it was a Great Grey Shrike sadly. I am now wondering if it was an escaped Black Headed Canary! Here is a link if you would like to see and compare.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=black+headed+canary&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiR6dWGk4juAhXI_IUKHfh2DPwQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=black+headed+canary&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQAzICCAAyAggAMgQIABAYMgQIABAYMgQIABAYOgQIABBDOgcIABCxAxBDOgUIABCxAzoICAAQsQMQgwE6BAgAEB46BggAEAgQHlCvnwNY7uYDYNXqA2gBcAB4BIABmQGIAYgQkgEEMjMuM5gBAKABAaoBC2d3cy13aXotaW1nsAEAwAEB&sclient=img&ei=1x32X9GhDsj5lwT47bHgDw&bih=553&biw=1280&rlz=1C1AVFC_enGB840GB841

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