Monday, June 8, 2009

Shrike Strike

A grey headed Bush shrike lands near its prey in the leaf litter.

Bush Shrikes are undoubtably one of the most exciting and sought after bird families. Surprisingly they are not closely related to “real shrikes” and are a retiring group of birds. For this reason they are highly sought after by bird watchers and indeed some of the most enigmatic of birds in Africa such as the Bulo Burti bush shrike for instance are known from only a single specimen caught and released in Somalia. The Grey headed Bush shrike on the other hand is probably one of the easiest of the species to see but nevertheless still remain a very exciting bird whenever encountered in the wild. Chances for photographing these birds are even less likely. Imagine our luck when we stumbled upon this scene of it struggling with its oversized chameleon prey. The shrikes killed the reptile early on a winters morning but due to the large size they could not manage to remain in control of their prey and repeatedly dropped in onto the ground. A perfect arena to place a portable hide, set up camera and flash and photograph this seldom seen spectacle.

It locates its reptilian prey and briefly scans the surroundings.

It then proceeds to peck at an open wound...

...gripps it by the neck and disappears into the tangle above.

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