This is a page from my Nature Journal – Watercolour in Moleskine 200gsm Nature Journal
The Fiscal Shrike (Lanius collaris) has been a busy little lady, filling up her larder in one of my Celtis trees – this morning I found a Finch fledgling spiked through a twig on the tree and Jackie was sitting close-by, keeping a watchful eye on me.
I love my Shrikes living in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa), and they know when I approach the feeding tables that it’s snack-time. I have a special feeder just for them, where I fill a pine cone with mince and suet, their favourites.
They provide me with hours of pleasure, watching and sketching them as they either sit in the top of an old dead tree or swoop down suddenly, landing on target of some tasty morsel. They are cheeky and precocious, harassing other birds no end, making sure their territory is clear of competition for food. They are also not past raiding nests, often taking newly hatched nestlings, much to my consternation as I helplessly watch.
The Fiscal Shrike is also named ‘Jacky Hangman’ due to its habit of impaling its prey on Acacia thorns to store the food for later consumption. In my garden they also use the White Karee, which has thorns all along it’s trunk when it is young. My Fiscals often spike grasshoppers, small lizards and even mice on these large thorns and they also use the barbed wire and the spikes on top of the palisade fencing.
One of the Shrike’s larders in the Celtis africana
Camera: Kodak EasyShare C195