Lanius excubitor scarce winter visitor

This blackbird-sized shrike turns up most years in the county; arriving, most commonly, in the second week in October from its breeding ground in Fennoscandia. By far the most favoured winter habitat is lowland heath although they can appear on The Downs and, on passage [October & between February and March] can turn-up just about anywhere. I found at SSF one morning in October 2004 - a couple of managed to see it but it was gone by the next morning.

The most reliable Berkshire site is Wishmoor Bottom where birds were recorded almost annually in the 90s. was reported in Feb 2000 and may well have over-wintered as they are notoriously "wide-ranging" and may occupy a winter territory of as much as fifty hectares. A shrike's eye-view of Wishmoor would certainly include Old Dean Common to the east and the MOD area of Broadmoor Bottom to the west and so it's unsurprising that they can be difficult to connect with.

There are two birds in this series; the first (three pics) was at Cow Down gallops from January to March 2004 and showed well enough for any county birder to add it to their list. It was generally pretty loyal to the [private] gallops and so only distant views were possible. The second bird was found at Wishmoor on October 14th this year. A great grey shrike's lifespan is about five years so it's very unlikely to be the millenium bird!
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