Friday, May 01, 2009


SSE 3 Bright, hazy sunshine, broken cloud later

With a day off today, I was up bright and early(ish!) walking the dog up the track at just after six. Not much doing here, so after breakfast I ventured down to Sheringham B.O hoping to see a few migrants. Birds were thin on the ground here, with nothing more exciting than a handful of Whimbrel, 3 Wheatear and a single flava wagtail flying east. By 0845 I was heading back to the car with raptors on my mind at Aylmerton! I headed up the track and spent the next hour and a half seeing nothing, in an increasingly hazy landscape and, noticing a front of stormy looking clouds, decided to head home, get some chores out of the way and head over Felbrigg on the off chance of a Black Tern dropping in. So I'm at home emptying a waste bin in the bedroom, when I notice a soaring raptor over the fields behind the garden-it looked like the local buzzard, but always worth a look at. I go down stairs grab my bins and scope, and go to the top of the garden and spy my Common Buzzard which is now hovering....after this its all a bit blurry!!! I think I went back indoors, came back out and noticed a raptor, obviously a harrier, quartering the fields behind the garden. Initially the bird was going away, a ringtail, great I thought, something other than Marsh ! Then it dawned on me that it wasn't particularly big, getting better! Then the bird turned showing its pale washed out body leading into the under wing coverts, dark almost blackish secondaries, distinct white based primaries and a crisp distinct head pattern!!! Out loud, once again to know one I not-very calmly scream -
" Its a f***in' PALLID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
At this point absolute pandemonium! I am really bad at not getting stupidly excited at finding rare birds, and this was my rarest for a long time!!! I'm composed enough though to realise that I need some pics of this bird if I'm not going to get the excruciating after thoughts later (did I really see that field mark? was it really that obvious?) So I hare down the garden grab my camera and start shooting aimlessly hoping I get one 'clincher' (lucky I got that image stabilisation!!) The birds gaining height now and is drifting north, becoming harder to pick up with the naked eye. I phone the pager "probable Pallid harrier 1145...." (I was determined not to foul up this one like I did the July Hen Harrier a couple of years ago!) Indoors I download the pics to the big screen, and there it is, my first self found PALLID HARRIER, and its in the UK! Not a nice easy male neither, probably a first summer female. The euphoria was unbeleivable and the memory of this bird will last long. At the top of my garden I've got a shed with a window, and in that window is a lamenated array of magazine cut outs of....Pallid Harriers! I really enjoyed this one!!

Pallid Harrier. Note dark head pattern with complete pale collar ('boa')

Pallid Harrier. Immediate thoughts were how pale under parts were and very dark, blackish secondaries. The white 'boomarang' at the base of the primaries were visable and distinctive even distantly. Again note underparts and head pattern.

Pallid Harrier. Showing general warm unmarked underparts
Garden List - 130 PALLID HARRIER


Ben Murphy said...

Awsome find Andy, well done mate. All the long hours of raptor watching have payed off big time! Hope you had a great time in Poland.

Pebble said...

Congratulations - Terrific

Dean said...

F***** Hell indeed, Andy. That`s one hell of a species to find anywhere, never mind the garden. Well done mate, for keeping your senses altogether.

Dave A said...

Nice one Andy - and well deserved!

Andy said...

Cheers Dean, it was one of those magic moments! I get so excited I just loose it!! I think when it doesn't have that effect I'll hang the old cans up!!!

Pete said...

uhm passable I suppose.

kicks ground and goes green.

nice one!

tai haku said...

Wow - that's just awesome!

Stewart said...

I've just found out it was your bird Andy!!! What a find, and mind you WHAT A FIND!
Congratulations of the first order.