Great Grey Shrike – a winter surprise in Lapland

RaubwuergerDuring a trip to see the first spring birds in Lapland and Finmark in northern Norway, I discovered a Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) which is called Great Grey Shrike, too. The bird was remoteless sitting in a snowstorm in a low birch wood along a road. It was still early May and the landscape was covered with a white linen of snow. Really a winter surprise in the – still almost – birdless snowy landscape of finish Lapland. Half the distance between the towns of Utsjoki and Inari in northern Suomi/ Finland right way from the Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) to the Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) I could see and photograph the bird very well near the Syysjärvi – Lakes. This was really a surprise and far beyond my expectations. The next sighting this far north was reported almost 1 week later, on the 8th of May on this latitude. A Great Grey Shrike was seen in Neiden, Finnmark/ Norway, which is almost on the same latitude Lake Syysjärvi. Honestly I did not even expect Great Grey Shrike to use this habitat of low tundra between extensive bogs in summertime. This Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) at least was sitting motionless in a remarkable snowstorm on top of a birch. I had to return the car, as I only saw the bird during the rush from eye angle. As I experienced it in Middle Europe, the Northern Shrike took off after a short while, just to sit a bit further on another tree top. The Shrike repeated the flight another time and disappeared after that without any further notice.

According to Wikipedia the Great Grey Shrike occurs throughout most temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Generally, its breeding range is limited to areas north of 50° northern latitude in Eurasia, and north of 55° northern latitude in North America. Its northern limit is generally 70° northern latitude, except in eastern Canada (Quebec) where it only reaches up to about 60° northern latitude. Given the 70° northern latitude limit, this would mean, that the Great Grey Shrike was almost on the top limit of its distribution, as the 70th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is quite famous, passing about 10 km south of the northernmost point of Finland, which is the village of Nuorgam. The Great Grey Shrike is only found as a vagrant in Iceland or the British Isles.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice images of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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