2nd Cal (plus) Male Marsh Hawk in Cornwall

2nd of this male plumage type in Britain

 

All the fun of modern birding. Another web-based discovery. I returned from very fine couple hours of seawatching with Flamborian friends this morning. Highlights were 2 Little Auks, 1 Sooty and 2 Manx Shearwaters, 3 diver species with Black-throated Diver and 2 Great Northerns, 2 Bonxies and my favourite- a close very smart adult Pomarine Skua.

Back at home warming up with porridge, my twitter feed, featured discussion on a harrier in Cornwall. Clocked by David Campbell on this Cornish website (and in discuss with David D. L and ‘Prof W.’), he suspect it might be a North American ‘Marsh Hawk’ (Northern Harrier). I agreed- looks spot-on and I would like to see one such as this in the UK!

The bird’s finders were Bob Sharples and I. Webster. Bob (visit his website) has provided the following images:

_BSP0239 BS12nd cal or older male Marsh Hawk (Northern Harrier), Cornwall, 23rd Nov. 2013 (c) www.bobsharplesphotography.co.uk, All Rights Reserved. Roughly half black and half white outer primaries (mostly black in Hen), only 5 (not 6) marked with obvious black, dark grey head with strong pattern around eye (see photos below), extensive rufous bars, spots and heart marks over underbody and underwings coverts nail it!

Bob comments on the sighting

Hi Martin,
 The bird in question did initially look like it was going to start hawking, but just flew around in a small circle looking below then carried on with its brief flyby! 
 I have put some images on my blog here http://bobsharplesphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/marsh-hawk-at-men-tol.html
Cheers Bob

Location of Men an Tol, Cornwall where the bird was seen: HERE

 

_BSP0247 bs32nd cal or older male Marsh Hawk (Northern Harrier), Cornwall, 23rd Nov. 2013 (c) www.bobsharplesphotography.co.uk, All Rights Reserved

_BSP0243 BS22nd cal or older male Marsh Hawk (Northern Harrier), Cornwall, 23rd Nov. 2013 (c) www.bobsharplesphotography.co.uk, All Rights Reserved

_BSP0248 bs42nd cal or older male Marsh Hawk (Northern Harrier), Cornwall, 23rd Nov. 2013 (c) www.bobsharplesphotography.co.uk, All Rights Reserved

For lots more beautiful photos visit Bob Sharples web pages.

 

7 thoughts on “2nd Cal (plus) Male Marsh Hawk in Cornwall

  1. thedrunkbirder

    Hi Martin, great find by Bob. There’s a roost on the Penwith Moors there so hopefully the bird will stay around. I wonder how many Marsh Hawks went under the radar in places like Cornwall before the advent of digital photography? My guess is a fair few. I guess this must be the classic plumage though in terms of an easy ID.

    Reply
  2. Brian Sullivan

    Nice bird! Based on what I can see in these photos, this bird is not safely aged as a second year, only as ‘after hatching-year’. To safely determine this as second-year would require seeing retained juv feathers, which this bird doesn’t show in these images.

    Reply
  3. Martin Garner Post author

    Good Question Matthew and I don’t think an exact science so here is my thought process, though Brian S. has brought more experience to his comment so happy to learn as ever!
    This was a quick gut reaction from me which may have been premature. What I see is a visible/noticable head pattern – pale surrounding crescents to eye and rather dark tone suggestion brown around head. Also rather extensive rufous spot/baring in underwing coverts and underparts and extensive rufousy marks in ventral region. The marginal/lesser wing coverts also really look dark/brownish- latter may be bad interpretation of photos or even not so impt. Lots ad male have much less rufous marks in unders inc vent and have softer, plainer grey head patterns on many pics of ad male hudsonius. So the features I have itemised are supposed to be characters of 2cy male.Some nice (different/ more ‘adult’ looking) adult male Northern Harriers here:

    http://www.bobsteelephoto.com/Species/noha.html

    Reply
  4. Matthew M.

    Thank you JanJ, Brian, and Martin. The bird here looks pretty lightly marked to me compared to lots of Northern Harriers I see but after reading that article (thank you Mr. Sullivan) I see that the plumage is somewhat irrelevant and the flight feathers (as Brian S. quotes) are the key to aging them. Neat!

    Reply

Leave a Reply