Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Valuable Lesson Learnt

Last evening, a nonchalant walk up the Track with the pooch before tea produced brief views of a 'ringtail' Harrier (a female or juvenile of one of three species, Hen, Pallid and Montagu's) The bird appeared fairly slim with rather dark upperparts, and, with no sign of any pale nape/bold face pattern I was pretty certain the bird was a 'Monty's' as opposed to the rarer, and more crowd inducing Pallid. Monty's it was then, a great sighting, but not a surprising one considering they try and breed in the county every year, and have done successfully in the next county along (Lincolnshire). So today I try my luck again and take the piece of equipment I didn't take yesterday, a camera! As soon as I got on the track the bird appeared to the south showing well, so there was a mad dash to get my scope up as it started to move away, and with my camera settings all over the place an opportunity was lost, but, the Monty's was still present and the warm underparts seen indicated it was a juvenile. The rump seemed quite prominent, due to fresh plumage maybe? (Note first tiny seed of doubt!) Consequently the bird showed again and I managed to get a shot. Midsummer in Norfolk, over rolling arable fields faced with a juvenile ringtail harrier I'd put my house on it being a Monty's-wrong! That rump was prominent because it was stuck onto a Hen Harrier! Probably the least likely of all three, especially a juvenile! Lesson learned (re-learnt?!) Always be prepared for the unexpected!!!!!
Juvenile Hen Harrier- note five (not four) fingered primaries

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