Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Pallid harrier, Grainthorpe Haven

I was working in Lincolnshire today and decided to stay over tonight in Saltfleet, with a view to spending the day at Donna Nook tomorrow. On the way to my accomodation I called in at nearby Grainthorpe Haven hoping to see a pallid harrier which has been in the area for a week or so.

Apparently it had barely shown all day before I arrrived, but right on cue it started hunting shortly after I got there and I watched it for about 20 minutes quartering the saltmarsh. Finally it caught something and dropped down and I didn't see it again. This was my 3rd pallid harrier, following birds at Flitcham in Norfolk last December and in Ayrshire in 2011.

I met another birder who had seen 9 species of raptor today including the pallid harrier. Not bad, I hope to see a few more species myself tomorrow, but for today I had to be content with just two others namely merlin and peregrine. Also today, 1000 dark-bellied brent geese, a couple of hundred pink-footed geese and as usual these days, lots of little egrets.

Year: 254 (Pallid harrier)

There's something about pallid harriers, they're really smart birds, especially the juveniles. This bird showed pretty well through the scope, but photographing it wasn't easy and this photo was taken on my camera at 24x, then it's been cropped quite a lot. Even so I like the photo, and in fact you can see all of the salient features which make this a pallid harrier, especially if I crop the photo even more as below.

Slim with a triangular "hand" compared to hen harrier but not as slim as you might expect from Montagu's, whilst the underwing shows dark secondaries contrasting with pale primaries and orange / rufous underwing coverts and body. You can even see the pale neck collar and dark "boa".

A merlin surveys the waders on the mud with Spurn lighthouse in the background on the other side of the river.

Dark-bellied brent and pink-footed geese.

Little egret.

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