Monday, 15 October 2012

The Brownsman Butcher!

The beast from the east! (Graeme Duncan)
Beautiful but deadly, Shrike on the lookout (Graeme Duncan)
OUCH! The Brownsman Butcher tucking in (Graeme Duncan)
Blood on your face! But is it Robin, Goldcrest or Black Redstart? (Graeme Duncan)

Big Fella! North-western type Redpoll on Brownsman (Ciaran Hatsell)

The polls are in! (Laura Shearer)

Monday 15th October comments: S.O.S. Our birds are under siege!! The hunt is well and truly on. Today on the Farnes saw some incredible moments. Small numbers of migrants are still lingering after making landfall a couple of days and after feeding, sheltering and resting up on the island, today they were tested. 

More or less the first bird of the day was a splendid juvenile Great Grey Shrike found on Brownsman Island. This was great news for the Ranger team who all enjoyed cracking views of this bruiser of a bird. They don’t call them butcher birds for nothing! The bird was almost immediately on the hunt after arriving, seen to catch and devour a Goldcrest. Next on the menu was a migrant Robin which met its untimely demise and had its head ripped clean off after being skewered ‘kebab style’ on a stick. Impressive stuff! The Shrike was caught, ringed and released and then just carried on killing! It continued to eat at least one more Goldcrest and a Black Redstart! Shrikes are great value for money and incredibly efficient hunters, with even this youngster able to eat its way through the Bird Guide!

If this wasn’t enough to get the migrants running scared, a Male Kestrel and a Merlin were also hunting around the islands. Whilst stood in the kitchen, a Robin was watched seemingly trying to get through the window, panicking and fluttering against the glass. After a couple of seconds.....WHACK! A Merlin smashed the Robin against the glass and took off with the bird in its talons. It’s a tough life if you’re a migrant bird and with all these predators on the prowl, it just got tougher!!!

A very interesting Redpoll was also caught on the islands, exhibiting some features of a North-western type bird. An absolute beast of a bird with a wing length of 75mm, it’s certainly worth checking out all Redpolls we get in future!

Yet another action packed day on the islands and with the winds switching to the east and Seal Tours beginning this week, it’s an exciting time to be on the Farne Islands! 

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