As with many other Central Asian species there might be considerable geographical variation among the Lanius excubitor-meridionalis-pallidirostirs complex.
The photographed bird shows extensive white supercilium above black mask ending past ear ear-coverts and narrow band on forehead. No… obvious pale areas on bill, which might be surprising?
Pale grey shrike without any rufous-pinkish in plumage; apparently pallidirostris sometimes shows pinkish under parts (Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton, J.C. 2005. Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide.
White scapulars and white carpal patch and extensive white edges on secondaries were seen well on the present bird.
Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius pallidirostris. Rare resident to scarce breeding migrant in southern half of Kazakhstan with a range stretching from west within WP-Europe at the Volga-Ural semi-desert region to East Kazakhstan along the border to China in the Alakol region at Dzhungarskyiy Alatau.
Inhabit the Central Asian southern desert and Kazakh semi-desert. Source: Wassink, A and Oreel, G J 2007. The Birds of Kazakhstan. De Cocksdorp, Texel.
Depending on literature consulted its status range from West to East as well… By some considered conspecific hence an ssp of Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor), but most often considered full species. A classification somewhere between Lanius excubitor and Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis seems to be fair, at present – I upload it within the latter context. Some geographical variation seems to be evident.
18. April 2010 was a great day in the desert on the southern shore of the huge Lake Balkash. We were in the middle of the desert. The night had been beautiful with sprakling stars, far away from any city but cold – there were ice on the tents in the morning. Luckily I brought my polar sleeping bag used for the Snow Leopard Expeditions in the mountains. It can be cold in the desert in April… In few months its almost incredible hot here – impossible sleeping in tents and suicide in such an sleeping bag
The area where we made camp is the hot spot for Panders Ground Jay, and those travelling with me in summer KAKI 2007 for sure remember this area – and at that event, in 2007 we found Panders, and the same travelers probably also remember my frustration as I was the only one in the party that dipped the Panders. That evening was NOT funny – except for all the others. I dipped the Panders as I walked 180 degrees wrong direction (to increase the search area…). But the Asian Desert Warblers were great – almost as great of those pics the other got of the ugly Panders…
2008 the birds were absent but to make it even more “funny”… 2009 provided the same bird and the same case – on the same spot. EXACTLY – same bushes/trees as in 2007! At that occasion I already was baptized Anti-Pander by Mosehår (VERY funny…).
I heard the Panders in 2007… and I have the Kazakh Panders on my list NOWADAYS, but I had to go back…
In 2007 the pallidirostris played the dark horse in the Panders-gate. The Panders had been present for almost half an hour. Perching in a little tree, flying to and from the ground, and when I finally arrived at the crimescene, the bird had left the branch for its ground business, but I was re-assured it has done the same dozens of times in the last MANY minutes. Up the bird came again, BUT this time it was not the Panders but a pallidirostris. We never saw the Panders anymore that day...
Sometimes birding is a cruel sport…as watching soccer: Denmark-Spain. DON’T MENTION THE WAR!
… ANYWAY 18.April 2010 was a great day. The morning brought excellent birding with singing Asian Desert Warblers, Desert Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear (the most talented artist herearound in song) and halimodendri-Lesser Whitethroat.
The pallidirostris were singing too; actually deliberate. It perched in top of trees and bushes, in what I suppose were its territory. In these areas prime breeding habitats are scarce (e.g. the Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, makes its huge bulky nest in bushes 1, 5 meter above the ground; in lack trees) and the territories fairly small; the photographed birds territory were approx. 100m x 100m.
Usually sightings of pallidirostris are few, but when prime habitat is found, it’s among the most common desert birds.
This morning the pallidirostris gave excellent sightings and was great to study – almost as good as the Pallas Sandgrouse (but those sightings of the sandgrouses were from another dimension and almost out of this world this morning, but this is another story)