Dark Morph Montagu’s Harrier

Utter surprise

Hi Martin

dark morph Montagu's Harrier by Geoff Morgan

The rare dark morph Montagu’s Harrier by Geoff Morgan. It looks as if the underside of the primaries may be paler and the secondaries darker suggesting a  juvenile rather than adult male or female dark morph- but who would swear by it ? The dark morph is found most often in the western part of the species’ range, especially Iberia.

I have been making an effort this spring to spend a little more time birding the inland and hill areas of Lothian. It has really paid off this weekend. Not only did I find this amazing dark morph Montagu’s Harrier yesterday (3rd May 2014), but while hoping for a re-sighting today managed to find a Rough-legged Buzzard moving through!
Rough-legged Buzzard by Geoff Morgan

Rough-legged Buzzard by Geoff Morgan

Given the warm sunny conditions late yesterday morning I thought that I’d head into the Lammermuirs and have a look for raptors moving through. I had Honey Buzzard in mind, but realistically expected only to add Common Sandpiper to the year list. The Faseny area of the Lammermuirs seemed a good place to start and after only a short while I struck lucky with a distant raptor moving toward me. I struggled to identify it initially – I hadn’t seen a dark morph Monty’s before – after the first brief view I wavered between Marsh/Hen/Northern Harrier or even an unbelievably bad view of a Buzzard. After a couple of minutes wait it popped into view again and I slowly pieced together its most likely identity. In retrospect, from jizz alone it was clearly a Montagu’s (or Pallid), but this seemed a very unlikely species and an even more unlikely colour morph to be seeing in Scotland. After viewing it for about 40 minutes in flight and on the heather it moved out of view over a ridge. I then spent several hours trying to relocate it and in doing so also eventually found some mobile phone signal to put the news out.
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I was unable to find it again after several hours of intensive search and that it had already moved through. Thankfully others managed to see it the next day.
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Here are a couple more pics – quality is poor unfortunately…
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All the best
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Geoff
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Geoff’s blog is HERE
dark morph Montagu's Harrier by Geoff Morgan

dark morph Montagu’s Harrier by Geoff Morgan

dark morph Montagu's Harrier by Geoff Morgan

dark morph Montagu’s Harrier by Geoff Morgan

3 thoughts on “Dark Morph Montagu’s Harrier

  1. Dipper

    Great sightings.

    I believe Pomarine Skuas (and others) cross the country from the Solway to the Forth. Does anyone ever see them over the hills between?

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Rare pallid harrier nesting in the Netherlands? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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