Northern Shrike

On one of my lunch time walks last week I got a quick glimpse of a Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) as it flew from a small thicket of trees and brambles. That section of the roadside was active with sparrows that seemed quite agitated and I probably should have looked a little more closely as I walked by – especially since the rest of my walk was fairly quiet. The behaviour wasn’t quite mobbing but I wonder if I had taken the time to focus on why the birds were agitated rather than the birds themselves perhaps I would have spotted the shrike.

I had reached my turn around point and it was when I was walking back past the thicket that I saw the shrike flying out and over the corn stubble in the field. It perched for a moment, long enough for me to take three photographs.

Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor)
A Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) perches on last year’s corn stubble.

I’m not particularly pleased with the quality of the image but given the distance, the low light (and hence ISO 800), and the softness that seems to be standard with my Sigma 170-500mm lens the photo has a sort of graininess that is acceptable. Let’s just say that in perfect light the lens seems to perform reasonably well. Otherwise, there’s quite a bit of work done in the Photoshop darkroom. Time to start saving up for a fixed length Nikon lens!

And while I was less than happy with the image, it was wonderful to see this”butcher bird.” It’s always exciting to see a bird of prey, even it is about the size of an American Robin.