I did not approach the birds closely and kept to a public area. I first noticed a male perched in a bush and then investigating came across the family. The info and photos have been sent to the Shetland Bird club, who all ready knew about the breeding pair. It is policy not to publish any information on rare breeding birds and leave it until they the young have flown
Friday, 14 August 2015
Breeding Red Backed Shrikes
The news is out that a pair of Red backed Shrikes have bred this year in Shetland. Quiet a few birds came into Shetland during the spring period and it looks like a male and female decided to stay on and breed.
I took these photos of the pair feeding well fledged birds some weeks ago but due to the sensitive nature , I withheld these until now . Articles have appeared in the Shetland Times on BBC Scotland, and numerous other publications so I think its safe enough to release these without giving a location.
Already this year problems have occurred with other rare Shetland breeding birds when either over enthusiastic photographers or egg collectors have been involved.
That's why I would never consider using a hide, you are just drawing attention to a nest no matter how camouflaged they are. I also consider that it may be consider a thrilling experience to photograph birds at the nest but the challenge of photographing birds `doing there thing ' - feeding, flying etc are far more rewarding and don't put the birds in danger, not just from humans but predators.
Red Backed Shrikes can be found throughout Europe, but within the UK they have declined to such an extent that it is classed as a Red Listed Bird. Since the last breeding pair in 1992 (East Anglia) a pair has bred down in Dartmoor in 2010 & 2013 and could have bred last year but no information is recorded.
Therefore this breeding pair which raised 4 young is a very significant record. This is thought to be only pair of Red Backed Shrikes breeding this year in the UK. Prior to this I saw a pair in Unst a couple of years ago but no record of breeding came out. In Shetland you get a number of birds that only breed very occasionally
These are really beautiful birds and to come across a breeding pair with large young is great news for Shetland , usually we only see them on migration.