Aves, p�le ornithologique de Natagora

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Aves, 50/3 | 2013 | 155-167

  The Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor on the “Plateau de Saint-Hubert”
Denis van der Elst

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Article summary

The Great Grey Shrike has been studied on the “Plateau de Saint Hubert”, in the Belgian Ardennes. The study area comprises about 16,000 ha of forest (including about 1,000 ha of fen, clear-fell and young plantations) and 10,000 ha of agricultural areas on the periphery. Data for the period 1973-2000 are somewhat fragmentary but they suggest that a breeding population around 10-15 pairs, nesting mostly in the central massif. Since 2000, the species only breeds in the massif. The population peaked at around 22 pairs in 2005 – a time when there was much activity restoring open habitats (the EU-supported LIFE program). Since 2008, the population is stabilised at around 10 pairs. In 2012 numbers increased slightly, probably due to the abundance of voles during the previous winter. In 2013 nesting was disastrous: among the 14 territories observed, only one nest was successful. During autumn few Great Shrikes are to be found in the forest, but from December onwards individual birds begin to defend their nest areas and nesting pairs are soon formed. By the middle of March the nesting pairs are all settled. Some surplus birds are also present, but not settled. Birds move into the surrounding agricultural areas from late June onwards, the last over-wintering birds having left there in April.

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