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Thursday 7 May 2009

Pallid Harrier at Slimbridge

This video shows the harrier seen at WWT Slimbridge 100 Acre on the 20th of April 2009. The wind was in a South Easterly direction and had been for several days. At the time, both Martin and I were so busy trying to justify that this bird was a Montagu's Harrier that we never even considered it might be a Pallid. However, we have since become quite concerned about it, and began to research the bird further. Around the same week, several Pallid Harriers that looked identical to our bird, turned up in Holland and one in Norfolk two weeks ago. At the time we both commented on the bright orange plain underparts and very strong dark boa and orange neck collar. There was not even a hint of a single streak on the underparts on this bird; it was completely orange. Surely even a first summer Montagu's Harrier should show quite a lot of streaking on the breast by now and most have hardly any colour. We also commented at the time that although this bird's wings were clearly thinner than a Hen Harrier they didn't seem quite pointed enough to be a Montagu's, (but fitted Pallid perfectly). Although this video is very small on this screen above, most of the id features can be seen. The last of the three images below shows that the inner primaries are pale-tiped so surely this is a first summer PALLID HARRIER! Of course, the video is a lot clearer on a full-size screen. Sadly, the Harrier was chased off by a Buzzard and we later saw it gain height and fly very strongly north. We will have to send this information to a few raptor experts and hope that they think it looks good for a Pallid. So could we soon add Pallid Harrier to the Gloucestershire list if the BBRC like my rubbish video?! Still, it is better than nothing!! More images below.

This images shows a Carrion Crow attacking the Harrier, you can see the very strong dark boa and orange collar and underparts. Also the shape of the wing. Sadly look away from the camera but you can just make out the neck collar.

And a freeze frame from the video showing the bird in flight. From this image you can see that the edges of the iner primaries feathers are tip pale (perfect for Pallid Harrier)

1 comment:

  1. James
    Although the photos are very difficult to judge, the bright, rather plain orangey underparts are shown by some second calendar year Monties, I have seen several myself. Some years ago there was a Pallid claimed in north Norfolk (Warham Greens) it too had very orangey underparts, it turned out to be a Monties. As to the wing shape, Pallid is more of a specialist at capturing avian prey than Monties and as you would expect it should have the more slender 'falcon like' wing shape. The features you describe seem to me to point to Montagu's Harrier rather than Pallid but I would be interested in the views of others. Anyway whatever the outcome an excellent raptor on the Severn.
    All the best Brian Lancastle



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