An Isabelline Shrike – known also as Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus) photographed at Tamri estuary on 2 January by Dutch birder Paul van der Poel and his wife.
This is the second record of this Asian vagrant for Morocco. The first one was observed at the estuary of Oued Massa on 2 November 2004 (see MRBC report No 11: Bergier et al. 2006).
Nomenclature and taxonomy
The split of the Red-tailed Shrike or Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides) from the Isabelline Shrike sensu stricto is almost universally accepted. It seems that the first Moroccan record also belonged to the latter species (e.g. it had no superciliun). Until now there is no record of Red-tailed Shrike.
Thanks Paul for sending the email and the photographs.
An Isabelline Shrike was found by a group of Swiss birders at Tamri estuary on 29 December 2018 (R. Wüst, D. Henseler, K. Varga and S. Werner). Without a doubt it’s the same bird found four days later by Paul van der Poel (above).
The Swiss group found also a Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) at Oued Souss on the 1st January 2019.
The bird was also observed at the same place and the same date by Heikki Parviainen, a birder from Tampere, Finland.
While birding in his home country, he discussed the Isabelline Shrike he saw in Morocco with his fellow birders. Only then, one of them told him that he saw the recent observation of the species on this blog.
Below is a part of the email that Heikki sent me on 9 January:
… On 2nd January, I visited Tamri estuary, and saw there an Isabelline Shrike (in the afternoon, at about 4 pm o’clock). The bird was not quite close, but I could see it well through the telescope, and the identification was immediately quite clear to me (I have seen Isabelline Shrikes before)….
Unfortunately, I didn’t immediately realize the rarity of the species in Morocco,….
In the evening I was browsing Internet and noticed that the first Isabelline Shrike of Morocco was seen in 2004. Then I understood my mistake not to take photos. On 3rd January I was booked for a bus trip to …., and so I could return to Tamri estuary only on 4th January in order to try to take photos of the Shrike. I searched the bird for a couple of hours in the area where I saw it before, but unfortunately without any results.
The bird was relocated by a group of six Hungarian birders on 14 January. Thanks to Zsombor Berenyi (who was among the party!) and Gábor Bodor for commenting below and on FB.
Long-stay at Tamri
The Isabelline Shrike apparently likes Tamri estuary and the Moroccan hospitality: it was still present on 3 March.
The bird was still present on the morning of 16 March. Martin Pitt photographed it while guiding a Naturetrek birding tour. Martin added that two days earlier a group of Polish birders had not seen it despite searching.