Will bird centre shrike it lucky?

Picture by Kevin Groocock
Picture by Kevin Groocock

A tiny bird spotted at the RSPB centre at Bempton Cliffs has left staff hopeful that more rare visitors will bring twitchers flocking to the reserve this autumn.

Staff have seen a red-backed shrike, a striking bird slightly bigger than a house sparrow, which is incredibly rare.

It is also known as The Butcher Bird, because it impales its prey on the thorns of shrubs to create a larder of food, it heads to East Africa at this time of the year to avoid the British winter.

The RSPB believes there are only a couple of breeding pairs in Britain but the fact it stopped off at Bempton on its way south has given the team cause for optimism.

Visitor operations manager Scott Smith said the RSPB team is keeping its collective fingers crossed for something special.

He said: “Last year we were blessed by the arrival of a rare eastern-crowned warbler which excited even the most die-hard ‘seen it, done it’ twitcher. We hope this year will bring something just as special our way.”

The team have drawn up a wish list of rare birds they would like to see make a surprise visit in the next few weeks.

At the top is a male Siberian rubythroat ahead of a red-flanked bluetail.