Category Archives: 06) Birds of Prey

Peregrine eating Kestrel

This is a smart piece of video taken in very strong winds in September at Spurn. The videographer is Dave Tucker- and this was shot with Swarovski ATX using Canon 7D attached to a Swarovski TLS APO adaptor and mounted onto the telescope. Balance Rail also used.

Peregrines take a wide variety of birds as their main food source. Kestrel however was not high on my list of species I thought they took! Great capture Dave.

 

It’s also a way of announcing the Premier of the Spurn Migration Festival video on the 25th October- more info coming soon!

 

 

 

£5000 reward offered for missing Montagu’s Harrier

and 20,000 signatures to the Queen

by Lush

£5000 reward offered for any information on the missing bird leading to a convictionlush one

LUSH customers from around the country recently signed 20,000 postcards to the Queen asking for her help to stop the illegal shooting of the beautiful Hen Harrier on driven grouse moors, a species teetering on the edge with only 3 breeding pairs left in England when there should be over 350. Now, with the recent shocking news of a satellite tagged Montagu’s Harrier suddenly going missing in Norfolk, it seems it doesn’t matter if it’s Hen Harrier on its breeding grounds, a migrating Montagu’s Harrier or a hunting Peregrine, no bird of prey is safe from the guns.

 

In a strange twist of fate, the satellite tag on the missing Montagu’s Harrier was actually paid for by LUSH founder Mark Constantine and the bird was even named after his wife Mo. The husband and wife team have also offered a £5000 reward for any information on the missing bird leading to a conviction.

 

The killing or disturbing of any bird of prey in England is totally illegal.  With 20,000 voices from the high street saying enough is enough, will their calls finally be heard above the gunfire?

 

Paul Morton from LUSH said “I can’t believe that just as we were gathering the last of the postcards from our recent campaign to send to Her Majesty, we get the news that another rare bird of prey, a Montagu’s Harrier, has gone missing near Great Bircham in Norfolk…it never ends! Luckily the bird was satellite tagged as part of a larger research project so the RSPB know exactly where the bird was right up until the last few seconds. Birds of prey are some of the most beautiful of any bird in world, I can’t understand what thrill people get from shooting them”.

 

LUSH’s Ethics Director, Hilary Jones added “It seems it is not a moment too soon that our customers are asking the Queen to intervene in this madness.  It is time to preserve our wild heritage with the same respect we treat our other institutions. Our once abundant birds of prey are being Harry’d to extinction and we need to act now before it becomes too late”.

 

LUSH will be handing the 20,000 signatures over to Buckingham Palace in the coming weeks in the hope the Royal Family take note of these atrocities and help put a stop to this slaughter once and for all.

 

 

 

For further information on the Hen Harrier plight, please visit www.raptorsalive.co.uk

For further press information and interview opportunities, 

please contact Stephanie in the LUSH Press Office on 020 7434 3948/07715 055 005 or email stephanie@lush.co.uk

Invasion of Red-footed Falcons in Bonkers Numbers

In Poland- and some questions…

See the video- only 15 seconds long but the numbers are incredible!

Lukasz Lawicki

 

immediate update: 9th September 2014.

New amazing news: in Poland, more than 1,500 birds (!), and further
about 500 in other Baltic countries (Latvia, Sweden, Estonia, Finland,
Germany, Denmark). Amazing! I wonder how many of them will reach to the western Europe. See on the photos from Poland HERE.

 

I am very curious if in countries in western and northern Europe in the
last week reported influx of Red-footed Falcons Falco vespertinus?

In Poland during the last week has been a very large invasion of this
species – at least 650 birds (now over 1500) were recorded, including 330 (!) birds at
one roost site near Lublin (SE Poland). See:

Of course, it is the largest ever invasion of Red-footed Falcons in
Poland (and still going!).

Perhaps it has to do with weather conditions – probably it is a result
of the high-pressure area, which in recent days pushed to Poland the
warm air from the SE Europe.

Probably most of these birds come from breeding grounds in south-eastern
part of continent (eg, from Ukraine or from a large population in
Hungary), but it is worth noting that one juvenile bird with Italian
ring (blue plastic) was photographed in NW Poland.

I would be grateful for information on whether in your country is also
now more Red-footed Falcons?

Cheers!

Lukasz

West-Pomeranian Nature Society, Poland.

 

The pale “FULVESCENS-LIKE” plumage of Lesser Spotted Eagle

Andrea Corso & Michele Viganò

MISC birding team

 

Very few birders and ornithologists acknowledge that Lesser Spotted Eagle has a much paler plumage than the common dark one which is similar to that shown by the Greater Spotted Eagle (chiefly in the eastern populations).
 

 

Juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina photographed north of Ardahan, North_Eastern Turkey,June 2014 by Igor Maiorano- THE MISC.  Note the impressive resemblance with the imperial eagles, chiefly with a faded juv. Spanish Imperial Egle Aquila adalberti : in particular note the extremely pale (much paler than usual) underwing coverts strikingly contrasting with the remiges, the very dark looking tail obviously contrasting with the vent and underbody in general, the well defined dark streaking to the breast forming as a darker breast band, the paler head with a darkish eye-line or eye-mask all characters shared with Imperials. As differences note however the very well marked and visible double pale commas at “wrist”, the less marked and striking pale “window” on inner primaries compared to both Eastern and Spanish Imperial Eagles (though it is usually less obvious in the latter!), the different wing formula with shorter and rounder, less protruding P4 (7th primary) and not projecting at all P3, the numerous and conspicuous dark barring to the whole remiges, and other minor characters as described in the text.

Juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina photographed north of Ardahan, North_Eastern Turkey,June 2014 by Igor Maiorano- THE MISC. Note the impressive resemblance with the imperial eagles, chiefly with a faded juv. Spanish Imperial Egle Aquila adalberti : in particular note the extremely pale (much paler than usual) underwing coverts strikingly contrasting with the remiges, the very dark looking tail obviously contrasting with the vent and underbody in general, the well defined dark streaking to the breast forming as a darker breast band, the paler head with a darkish eye-line or eye-mask all characters shared with Imperials. As differences note however the very well marked and visible double pale commas at “wrist”, the less marked and striking pale “window” on inner primaries compared to both Eastern and Spanish Imperial Eagles (though it is usually less obvious in the latter!), the different wing formula with shorter and rounder, less protruding P4 (7th primary) and not projecting at all P3, the numerous and conspicuous dark barring to the whole remiges, and other minor characters as described in the text.

 

While raptor watching in the last 30 years, one of us  (AC) noticed that among the usual plumage of Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) there was a much paler plumage not shown or even not cited in any field guide, handbook or publication. Indeed, all birders and ornithologist know about the fulvescens plumage in Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga) as well as its many pale and intermediate plumages of the Eastern range of distribution (paler birds are commoner among eastern populations).

In fact, this rare paler variant of LSE plumage, being so little known, is often wrongly identified in the field by even the keen birder, sometimes as fulvescens or other times as juvenile Aquila heliaca or juv. adalberti. For this reason we would like now here to give a short description on it and some hints and tips for its identification.

We noted this plumage during autumn migration in Israel as well as during breeding season in Eastern Turkey (near Ardahan and Kars).  Also the skins found in museums were from Eastern Turkey and the Middle East.

Description

A pale variant of the usual plumage of Lesser Spotted Eagle, found both in juvenile (more frequently) than in immature or near adult birds ( no adult yet observed). The whole body appears visibly paler than the usual coloured birds, ranging from tawny-buff or buffy-cream or isabelline, paler on both under and upperwing and on head, being off white or creamy-white on lower belly, vent and undertail coverts. Usually the “thighs” appear darker, pale brownish, as well as most of the time there is a noticeable dark streaked breast band as in Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) or in Eastern Imperial Eagle. All in all, the general appearance is very similar to that of a juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle. Remiges and tail are like in the normal plumage, showing a regular and thick dark barring, with numerous bars; the inner primaries pale “window” could (or not) looks more obvious, again recalling more what is seen in juvenile heliaca. On the underwing, greater coverts (GC) and primary coverts (PC) are darker than the rest of the coverts, appearing as a dark band across the mid-wing; they are white-tipped. There is an obvious double pale comma at wrist. Pattern of upperwing is similar to that of underwing. In 2CY, faded birds are even much paler. Older birds (immatures) are similar to juvenile and appear much paler than equivalent plumage in typical pomarina (showing various moult stages and abrasion of course, differently from juvenile).

Juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina photographed north of Ardahan, North_Eastern Turkey,June 2014 by Michele Viganò – THE MISC.  Note in this angle the darker carpal patch and “trousers” or “thighs” , not usually shown by the imperial eagles. Darker carpal patch and pale double commas are very striking.

Juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina photographed north of Ardahan, North_Eastern Turkey,June 2014 by Michele Viganò – THE MISC. Note in this angle the darker carpal patch and “trousers” or “thighs” , not usually shown by the imperial eagles. Darker carpal patch and pale double commas are very striking.

 

Identification

These pale variants could appear extremely similar to GSE fulvescens and even more to juvenile Eastern Imperial Eagle and Spanish IE. They are best told for:

  1. fulvescens: flatter wings during soaring and gliding, longer tail and neck/head, narrower wings and “hand” (more pointed wing-tip), typical LSE wing formula (less obvious in juvenile birds where the wing formula become is similar in both species). Plumage even paler in fulvescens, with contrast dark-pale more striking, more orangish in fresh bird (Ruddy Shelduck-like) and more pale creamy or off white-creamy in faded birds. Different flight feathers pattern, as for typical plumage, with a different dark barring. When shown (not all birds do), double pale comma distinctive of LSE.
  2. Imperial Eagles in juv. plumage (Spanish and Eastern): similar flight style showing to these species, both soaring and gliding being similar. Wings of the Imperials appear longer, narrower and more pointed, fingered primaries more numerous, narrower and longer, head and neck heavier, tail even longer. The pale rump-uppertail coverts patch on Imperials is wider and more conspicuous than in pale plumage LSE. Pattern of dark barring is similar but often, dark bars on the Imperials are wider and less numerous (but variable). Important characters are the darker, almost solid black, remiges in both Eastern Imperial and even more visibly in Spanish Imperial, with therefore the pale “window” on inner primaries much more striking and obvious at distance compared to pale variant LSE. Also, very hardly there is any pale comma on wrist in the Imperials (chiefly, it is extremely rare in Spanish) and there is no dark carpal patch on them (or only a hint of dark blotching to carpal area). When perched structure is of course very different, with stronger, heavier and higher bill of Imperials, oval, oblong nostril instead of small and round as in LSE, thicker, fuller and wider “thighs” on the Imperials, stronger legs and feet, bigger, heavier body held more horizontally (LSE appearing often more upright) and so on.
Juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina photographed north of Ardahan, North_Eastern Turkey,June 2014 by Michele Viganò – THE MISC. As for the imperial eagles, note in this pale plumage the contrasting paler head, the dark breast band and very pale body and underwing coverts. Note the very flat looking soaring, with very flat wings although the “hands” are held pressed downwards. Darker carpal patch and pale double commas are visible.

Juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina photographed north of Ardahan, North_Eastern Turkey,June 2014 by Michele Viganò – THE MISC. As for the imperial eagles, note in this pale plumage the contrasting paler head, the dark breast band and very pale body and underwing coverts. Note the very flat looking soaring, with very flat wings although the “hands” are held pressed downwards. Darker carpal patch and pale double commas are visible.

Conclusions

All in all, this plumage is not shown or discussed in most (or all) field guides, so it deserves great attention as indeed it poses serious ID problems when not seen well or if not bearing in mind the differences with fulvescens or even more with the juvenile Eastern Imperial Eagle and possibly more Spanish Imperial Eagle. In a “vagrant context”, when facing with outside range records of these eagles, the possibility of this paler variant pomarina should be taken into consideration.

 

 

Three of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

One of the chapters covers Common Buzzard and Steppe Buzzard. Had to two full page spreads to cover all the Steppe Buzzard stuff :) . Love Ray Scally’s set of Steppe Buzzard tails. For more on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

An easy adult rufous morph Steppe Buzzard:

adult rufous morph Steppe Buzzard by Martin Garner

adult rufous morph Steppe Buzzard by Martin Garner

 

One of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

Two weeks before the official book launch. With lots of interest about the new book’s content, I propose to try and post at least one photo a day which relates to each chapter for the next 14 days. Hope it’s of interest.

One of the chapters covers Hen Harrier and Northern Harrier. For More on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

grey male Northern Harrier hudsonius Shaun Robson.

grey male Northern Harrier hudsonius Shaun Robson.