Nemesis Bird – Northern Shrike – Yes!

This is my fourth year of birding and for the last two of them, I’ve been whining about not finding a Northern Shrike.  I’ve sort of whined in posts here and here.  A couple of days ago, I saw Chip and Larry, young friends of mine from the North Branch Nature Center, and I began again.  I noted to Larry that he was on my bad guy list because he keeps seeing shrikes and I never do.  He replied, “Dick, I hate to tell you.  I just saw one on my way to work” and went on to tell me where — up near my eye doctor’s office.

Fast forward a couple of days.  Yesterday, I had to take Mary up to the hospital for an appointment and had some time to kill so off the dog and I went in the truck to bird.  I headed right up to the spot Larry had mentioned, figuring it was another wild shrike chase.  I scanned the tree line way off as I drove in and saw a dot way off.  As I parked and got the glasses on it, aha!  Definitely a Northern Shrike perched at the top of a big birch tree, over a quarter mile off.  I watched a bit, took some long-range photos from the truck, and then got out to get my scope.  As I set up the rig, I noted that the bird was gone.  I doubt with all the coming and going in the parking lot I spooked it but it was a find — life bird number 355.  Here is a lousy image that I got from far away:

Life bird 355.  Hope to see it closer for a better photo.

Life bird 355. Hope to see it closer for a better photo.

After packing up and warming up frozen hands, I turned the truck around and up ahead, a small flock of birds flew right in front of me.  I turned into another lot, noting that they were snow buntings.  They kept moving away from me as I tried to photograph them through the open window – and of course, I was blocking someone coming in for an appointment.  I got better positioned as they settled along the driveway edge and was able to grab a couple of shots before a car came along and flushed them for good — off they went sailing across the snowy fields with a 20 knot tailwind.  They were a County first for me and County Big Year bird 19.    About then, Mary called to say that she was getting fitted for a new support boot for her broken toe and would be ready soon.  I think I had more fun than she but we both had successful afternoons.

Snow Buntings working the edge of a driveway.  County bird #19 for 2013.

Snow Buntings working the edge of a driveway. County bird #19 for 2013.

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3 Responses to Nemesis Bird – Northern Shrike – Yes!

  1. Bob Phillips says:

    Congratulations on FINALLY finding a Northern Shrike! I know you have been yearning for this for a couple of years at least. Who replaces it on your Most Wanted List?

    • Dick Mansfield says:

      Yellow-billed cuckoo – which Chip sees frequently at NBNC. Do you bird the Cow Patch or a name like that, in Barre come springtime? Hope to see you when you are in town

  2. Pingback: A Look Back and Birding Goals for 2014 | Vermont Birder

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