Northern Shrike -- a rolling log for 2017/2018

Last year, a mega bird, a Northern Shrike was spotted in Northern Virginia. This year, many anticipated its return. And surely enough, on November 1, it made its first appearance at Sully Woodlands, where it was spotted last year around the same time.

On November 14, I made a trip to this area -- this was my 3rd try this year, the first two times without finding the bird. It turns out that my third "shrike" was a luck one -- I quickly spotted the bird in a bare tree in the field.


Northern Shrike


Northern Shrike


Northern Shrike


Northern Shrike


Northern Shrike

December 1, another month. I had been out of town quite a bit in November (first to Florida then to Texas), and I finally made a trip to Sully Woodlands again. As if on cue, the bird was perched on a powerline just as I walked toward the abandoned shed. It flew to a tree in the field, then to other trees behind the shed. Nothing new or exciting on this day -- I did not see it hunting insects, but, like seeing an old friend, it was reassuring.


Northern Shrike


Northern Shrike

December 16, the calendar says it's still autumn, but there are no leaves on the trees and there is dusting of snow on the ground.

I went to Sully Woodlands on this chilly morning, and the Northern Shrike was right there in the middle of the field. It was calling and singing softly. Lighting was not the best, but I got some okay shots. I could have gotten closer, but I decided to leave it alone to enjoy this bright (albeit cold and breezy) morning.


Northern Shrike


Northern Shrike

January 7, 2018. I had been out of town during the holidays (to South Florida and the Bahamas), and rather alarmingly, the shrike (I now just call it the "Sully Shrike") had not been reported for more than 2 weeks (last known report was on December 22, 2017). I did not see the shrike on this day either, the consolation is that I photographed a Red-shouldered Hawk.


Red-shouldered Hawk

January 14, 2018. The "Sully Shrike" was back! It was reported a couple of days back after an absence of three weeks. I had planned to look for it anyway, and this boosted my interest and confidence.

And as if on cue, I saw it in a bare tree outside (southeast of) the abandoned barn immediately as I arrived. It flew to a cedar tree just southwest of the barn, then to the line of cedars to the west of the recently burnt fields. It was active, but not alarmed; at one point it seemed to chase another bird (probably an American Goldfinch). The burnt fields provided a lot of food for foraging birds, in particular American Robins, European Starlings and Northern Flickers. I saw the shrike a few times through the branches of the cedar trees, but eventually lost it. I did not quite get the shot I wanted, but managed to get one that's identifiable.


Northern Shrike


One of hundreds of American Robins

Click here to return to the main page.

Thanks again for visiting my website, please sign my guestbook

Reminder: To see the latest of my pictures, please join the Nature Lovers of Virginia Facebook group.