03 April 2014

Masked Shrike fly-catching – Dhahran Hills

Whilst birding the ‘patch’ at the end of March I found a smart male Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus. Initially it was quite close but before I could get my camera onto the bird it flew off to a further bush. I approached the bird slowly using the car as a hide and got into a nice position to photograph it as it kept returning to one of two elevated perches. Here I tried, with great difficulty, to get a flight shot of the bird but I was so close and using my big 600mm lens that it was extremely difficult. The bird was flying from the perch and regularly catching flies, occasionally dropping to the ground to eat beetles. After approximately one hour I managed to get a reasonable flight shot as the bird flew back to its perch with a fly. The Masked Shrike is an uncommon migrant to all areas of Saudi Arabia with a few birds wintering in the southwest and rarely in the Eastern Province. Most birds are seen on migration mainly in April, May and September although there are a few summer records in June with early migrants in late March and late migrants in early October.