Saturday, 6 July 2013

Lesser Grey Shrike family

Breeding Lesser Grey Shrikes are now almost extinct in Slovenia. Perhaps the last remaining pair is the one in the Vipava valley. Yesterday I spent some time at the location and witnessed some amazing parental behaviour. There were 4 fledged and fully flying LESSER GREY SHRIKES around, along with the two adults bringing a constant food supply. The male was frequently seen flycatching (also dragonflies) or hunting other insects on the ground, while the juveniles were waiting up on the poplar trees.

Adult with a dragonfly in the beak
Adult (right) with a juvenile (left)
A happy family: all 4 juveniles + an adult together

Nearby was also a pair of Red-backed Shrikes and the male sat just a few metres away from the male Lesser Grey. From a front view, the only thing you could see were whitish underparts and a black mask in both species. The distinguishing feature was of course the extensive black on the forehead showed by Lesser Grey and the different bill structure (bulkier in LGS). A nice scene for comparison of both species. Note the differences below:
Lesser Grey Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
In a nearby vineyard a Hoopoe put also on show while feeding on the ground and a singing Crested Lark was also around.

Later in the morning I also had a look at the extensive upland grasslands of mount Nanos, which produced the hoped-for GOLDEN EAGLE - an adult soaring not too high above my head. If I don't go wrong, the last Golden Eagle I saw was here in the same place, back in 2010. I'm quite glad I saw one after a long time. Other raptors included a Griffon Vulture heading W, 1 Hobby (hunting), 1 Goshawk and 5 Buzzards. A few breeding passerines were also around: Chiffchaff, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, 2 pairs of Stonechat, Skylark and at least 4 singing Rock Buntings
Golden Eagle
Rock Bunting