Thursday, 28 October 2010

**Update ** Holme - Pallid Harrier??

*** Another retrospective post ***

I mentioned in the original thread that the Harrier sp seen at Holme on the 9th October could be a 'Pallid' with the identity door still ajar! This enigmatic bird may be a little closer to revealing it's 'considered' identity once the BBRC have reached a decision.

The reflex shot taken as I was unloading the camera from the car in the vistor centre car park seems to have become a vital piece of evidence in the case FOR Pallid Harrier and I've been asked to provide the image below to accompany the formal description. With Dick Forsman (DF) firmly of the opinion that this is the species involved, it does seem to be the probable outcome!

Juvenile Harriers of this type are notoriously difficult enough given prolonged views and photographs are likely to be essential to clinch the identification. I must admit every image I found of juvenile Pallid Harrier showed a particuarly striking 'Boa' which clouded my judgement initially (this is a variable feature....) DF has now pointed out that whilst the head has some clear identification pointers, the secret lies in the underwing pattern!

Pro-Pallid Harrier features as seen here are the pale collar which reaches the throat and the striking contrast of it's appearance. This is considered to be a key juvenile Pallid Harrier feature rather than the somewhat more variable facial features and boa.

The clincher however is the detail in the underside of the inner primaries. These are clearly pale tipped and this effectively rules out Montagu's Harrier, which would have dark tipped inner primaries. I've reduced the contrast slightly in this closer view although the pattern is clear from the original crop.

Ironically, the clues are all there in the images - they just need piecing togther logically! Let's see what BBRC come up with - I'll be astonished if it's not PALLID HARRIER...

The last I saw of it (and my only other image)....

I'm enoying my trawls throught the archives by the way and whilst the birding is quiet, you can expect the occasional journey back in time to see: more from the Farnes, various unsorted / unpublished images (not least of which the Blue-headed Wagtail pair from last Summer!!

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