Long-tailed Shrike - Lanius schach

On Monday 31 October 2011 Johanna van Dillen-Staal was birding at the old rubbish dump near Den Helder NH. At around 9:00 hours she found a bird which she identified as a shrike, but could not put an exact name on it. She phoned Mario Renden and Henk Post. Henk Post was the first to arrive on the scene and confirmed it was indeed a shrike. He took some photographs and together with Roelf Hovinga and Tim Zutt who arrived after Henk Post, they thought it was most probably an isabelline shrike (either Turkestan or Daurian). More birders arrived, but the bird had disappeared. When studying Henk Post's pictures Marcel Haas and Ruud Brouwer thought it could be very wel a Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach. Finally at 12:30 hours the bird re-appeared and now the identification was easy, it was the first Long-tailed Shrike for the Netherlands!
The bird stayed till dark and the last time it was seen when it entered a large bush at 17:35 hours. It was not seen again the following days. I was at work in Amsterdam, but I was lucky a could take a ride with my ING-colleague and co-twitcher Tijmen van Doornik and we arrived at 14:00 hours and could see the bird continiously.
Closer inspection revealed the bird was a first winter, with tail and remiges juvenile and body-feathers already post-juvenile moulted. One or two scapulars where still juvenile with dark subterminal markings. Also striking were the light tips to the greater coverts.

31 October 2011, Oude Vulnisbelt Den Helder NH; © Harm Niesen.
Note the relatively short primary projection, the long tail and the light edges on the greater coverts.

31 October 2011, Oude Vulnisbelt Den Helder NH; © Harm Niesen.
Note the juvenile rectrices and remiges. The face mask is also visible above the bill.

31 October 2011, Oude Vulnisbelt Den Helder NH; © Marc Guyt / Agami.
Note the orange flanks and undertail coverts are well visible; in flight the colours were reminiscent of a Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus.

31 October 2011, Oude Vulnisbelt Den Helder NH; © FilmTheBird.

It was accepted as the first record for the Netherlands. Other records in Europe were in Sweden on 11 June 1999 at Stora Karlsö, Gotland, Scotland between 27 October and 4 November 2000 at Howbeg and Howmore on South Uist, Outer Hebrides and Denmark between 15 and 17 October 2007 at Skallingen, Ribe. The last one was twitched by Leo Boon, who saw the Dutch bird too and is the only living soul with two Long-tailed Shrikes in Europe!
For more information (and lots of photographs) see the site of Dutch Birding.

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