‘Shrike’ she shrieks!
We’re walking in il Pratone di Torre Spaccata (Broken Tower Meadow) in Rome when I hear the Puffin Whisperer shout ‘Shrike!’ That’s incredibly exciting to me as I love Shrikes, or Butcher Birds as they’re also known. I’ve seen a Great Grey Shrike before and it was one of my favourite wildlife experiences. I even made a YouTube video about it:
And then, naturally, I wrote about it here, on my blog:
Red Backed Shrikes used to breed regularly in Britain, but have finally been extirpated. What a beautiful bird and what a tragedy we no longer have them, apart from a few individuals passing through. The RSPB website still says we have three breeding pairs in the UK. That has included one pair on Dartmoor and an occasional pair in Shetland. I wonder how many will breed in Britain this year? One or none?
They’re elegant, alert birds as they perch on the tops of bushes to look for prey and predators.
This one is probably on migration, will stay here for a day and then fly by night further north to its breeding grounds. It shows just how essential the Pratone is for wildlife. Here’s a petition anyone can sign to save it from the developers who want to build an industrial estate and film studios on it, destroying all the wildlife which relies upon it.
We see it fly again and again and catch large insects. It’s a fabulous hunter, and uses its long tail to manoeuvre in the air. Its tail steers its beak in the right direction at the last moment to catch its prey.
The name Shrike comes from their call. Its origin is from the word shriek.
We watch it for over an hour, hidden behind small bushes so as not to disturb it, until the light finally goes, and we walk home with steps lightened by the experience.
I’ll be talking about it for weeks.
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