Photographing Red-backed Shrikes in Germany

NeuntöterThe male of the Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) sits exposed on an Elderberry branch (Sambucus nigra) protruding from the hedge. For years, this small shrike has been found in the midst of a wet forest meadow landscape during the breeding season. In the North German Plain the Red-backed Shrike is still widespread, but the population density is nowhere very high, so that it is considered a highly endangered species in Germany.

Hedgerow landscapes with Elder, Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Blackberry, are otherwise the preferred habitat of the Red-backed Shrike. In the low mountain ranges, however, the Red-backed Shrike also regularly occurs on clear-cuts in the regeneration phase and in richly structured stream valleys.

Both partners participate equally in the approximately fortnightly feeding phase of the young birds in the nest. When photographing in the thicket of a hedge, a good telelens with a high initial aperture is useful to be able to separate the subject well from the background.

You should listen for high-pitched, soft but intense calls coming from a reforesting clearcut that is now replanting itself with spruce. Between emerging Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), Elderberry and Rowan (Sorbus aucupariaeinem), follow the calls and you may spot a just fledged young Red-backed Shrike right next to a hunter’s perch.

Popular perching points from which the Red-backed Shrike looks for prey are regularly approached. Therefore, it is relatively easy to photograph the birds from a camouflage tent or hunting hide. In order to have the shortest possible working distance, it is necessary to place the camouflage tent in the bird’s territory for a longer period of time. This usually requires arrangements with the landowner and the hunting tenant.

As mentioned Red-backed Shrikes prefer hunting following perching. Such – for some time – static situations are usually photographed from a distance of five to eight meters. A greater distance is advantageous for action shots – such as the approach of the Red-backed Shrike to the nest. To avoid disturbing the birds, it is advisable to determine shooting points in advance so that the tripod-mounted lens does not have to be swung back and forth unnecessarily.

It is a good idea to always have a second housing handy so that the lens does not have to be changed at moments when the birds are close by.

The young birds leave the nest still unable to fly and spend their time as adults in the immediate vicinity. During the estrus period, the hedgerow provides a protected play and testing area for the young birds.

A territory along a path proves to be particularly favorable, as the photographer in the car can follow the constantly changing locations of the young red-backed shrikes. After leaving the nest, the family remains together for another four weeks, which in turn provides an opportunity for beautiful photographs.

In order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic, has made targeted trips to the most beautiful natural landscapes of Brandenburg or Berlin but also to distant places. All this in order to be able to take excellent photos of the birds of the Western Palearctic. The yield of pictures also of rare Western Palearctic birds is very good. The nice picture you see in the blog is just a first impression, what you will find in behind the tab “Picture Shop” very soon. Just let know if you need the picture of a bird species before new pictures are online.

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