A challenge for you (albeit another easy one): what species, and what activity, do these photos represent? I’ll give you a few clues…
On second thoughts, I won’t. Well, all I’ll say is that the photos were taken in the New Forest in southern England and show one of the region’s most famous birds. Tell me more!
Photos by Tara Dempsey, used with permission.
UPDATE (added 9th August 2010): Many thanks to all of you for your guesses. Many of you got it right, or mostly right. What we’re looking at here is a juvenile Dartford warbler Sylvia undata, shown impaled on gorse spines. Admittedly, you definitely have to know Dartford warblers in order to recognise the corpse: giveways include the yellowish legs, the greyish-buff flanks, the grey upperparts, the small size (only obvious if you know how big gorse spines are), and the association with gorse. The long tail feathers are missing. The head is not missing; it’s merely tucked down and mostly out of view.
As correctly guessed by many of you, the bird was captured and cached by a shrike. We know this because the capture and caching was observed. The photo is a recent one (though, sorry, I hadn’t said this): this means that Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio can be ruled out as the cache-maker, as this species became extinct in England round about 1988 (or maybe a few years later). The photo was also taken in the winter, meaning that any shrike that cached the warbler must be either a resident or a winter visitor. And the Great grey shrike L. excubitor is (in the UK, at least) well known for being a winter visitor of the New Forest (it’s the only shrike present in southern England during the winter*). Individuals are usually present from October until April or so: the number of birds that visit the forest varies from year to year, but it’s something like 6-8. So, we’re looking at a juvenile Dartford warbler cached by a Great grey shrike [the adjacent photo of a Great grey shrike (with Striped field mouse Apodemus agrarius) – taken in Poland, not Britain – is by Marek Szczepanek, from wikipedia].
* Though Brown shrikes L. cristatus have, in recent years, been seen in Britain during the winter.
Thanks again to Tara for providing the photos and the information. I’ve seen shrikes pursuing passerines, but I haven’t seen a successful capture, nor have I yet seen a shrike cache. I hope that, one day, I will.