Brown Shrike - Lanius cristatus

On Saturday 18 January 2014 at around 14:30 Roel Schwartz and Wim Gerritsen were looking for Common Stonechats Saxicola rubicola at their local patch the Azewijnsche en Netterdensche Broek Gld for their monthlist. While driving Roel spotted something in the corner of his eye and thought for a moment a found a Stonechat. Wrong! It proved to be shrike and not a Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor. Panic broke loose and they phoned Eric Ernens for assistance. When he arrived - also without a field guide - they were able to identify the bird as a Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus, a first ever for the Netherlands. At around 15:00 the news was spread, so now it was a race against time before sunset (sunset that day was at around 17:06 hours) for all birders who came to see the bird.
I did not hesitate and I had to drive for almost two hours from Alkmaar, but I made it. Well, I arrived at 16:52. I parked my car and ran towards several birders with telelenses and scopes. I pushed someone away from the nearest telescope and when I looked through the scope I looked straight into the eyes of a Long-eared Owl Asio otus! For a moment I was totally confused, but the owner of the scope pointed in the direction of an even larger crowd c 300 meters away. I ran all the way and at 16:55 I saw the bird till 17:10 when it flew into a bush obviously to sleep. Next days the bird was still present and behaved as typical a Brown Shrike behaves: low in cover, sometimes on poles but always returning to his favourite bush. The bird stayed till 8 May.

Note the light supercilium, especially behind the eye, light tertial-edges, and light base of dark bill; 18 January 2014, Netterden Gld © Max Berlijn.

Note the scaly underparts and light orange flanks; also the short primary projection can be seen; 19 January 2014, Netterden Gld © Eric Menkveld.

Note the rounded tail, uniform chestnut-brown upperparts and darker face-mask; 19 January 2014, Netterden Gld © René van Rossum.

Netterden Gld, 18 January 2014 © Frank Coenjaerts.

It was accepted as the first Brown Shrike for the Netherlands. There were five records in the UK in the autumn of 2013. We were crestfallen none had appeared in the Netherlands that same autumn. But this bird could be very well part of this small influx. Until 2012 there were 12 records in the UK (Sept-Oct 1985, Oct 2000, Sept 2001, Sept 2004, Sept 2008, Nov 2008, Sept 2009, 2 in Oct 2009, May 2010, Oct-Nov 2011), one in Ireland (Nov-Dec 1999), two in Denmark (Oct 1988, Nov 2012), two in France (Oct 2000, Nov 2004), one in Germany (Oct 2001), one in Italy (Nov 2002 till Feb 2003), one in Norway (Oct 2005) and one in Sweden (Oct 1984). Five were seen in September, ten in October, five in November and one in May.

Do you want to go to the main-index, the 2014-index or the next new species the American Robin?