Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Pallid Harrier and Semi P on the Fylde

A couple of cracking birds on the Fylde this week, and this juvenile pallid harrier in particular is a stunner. Yes I saw the Dunsop Bridge bird as well, and as stunning as that bird undoubtedly was, a displaying adult male pallid harrier no less, it wasn't as beautiful as this juvenile.The photo just doesn't do it justice, the unstreaked body and coverts were bright gingery / orange in colour, contrasting with the dark boa and pale collar, with pied primaries and tail, making this one of those rare occasions when the juvenile is a more beautiful bird than the adults.  We waited for two hours in force 6 winds which made it really uncomfortable, but the bird eventually flew and was seemingly unaffected by the wind as it hunted for several minutes across the field right in front of us,  a simply breathtaking bird.

Four obvious primaries and a really long tail. Hen harrier usually shows five primaries.

Long gone are the days when pallid harrier was a mega rarity. There are several in the UK at the moment and this was my 5th in five years. It's one of those birds which when you see it, it's obvious, but while your searching for one it's not so obvious and some hen harriers can superficially look a bit like pallid harrier especially on distant or poor views. There's also been a juvenile pallid harrier on the Dee Estuary recently, and I did wonder if this might be the same bird, but I've since been informed that the Dee bird was considered a male and this is considered a female, which makes it all the more remarkable that we should have two pallid harriers in the North West this autumn!

We started the day at Skippool Creek just north of Shard Bridge where there has been a juvenile semipalmated sandpiper present for a few days with dunlin. This was another one of those occasions where if we define the quality of the sighting by the quality of the photos you would think that it was a poor view, yet actually it was a very good scope view of this great little wader, a good old fashioned pre-digital "showing well" view as opposed to a more modern "I expect a frame filler" view. Mind you, I have seen some cracking photos of this bird so it must come closer occasionally.

This wasn't even  a Fylde tick for me, I saw a semi p at Knott End in 2013. Not many birders got to see that bird, it wasn't even a one day bird, it was a mid-week one tide bird! I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was working in the area when my boss at the time text me to inform me that a mate of his had found a semi p and gave me the exact location. I was 10 minutes away! It had been found at high tide, the tide receded, the bird went further and further out until it was lost and never seen again. There's a report on my blog here of the Knott End bird from 2013.

Poor though this photo is, you can clearly see that it has a blunt bill and dare I suggest that you can also make out the foot-webbing!

This was my first visit to Skippool Creek and there are quite a lot of good photo opportunities here even if the birds are not quite frame fillers.

1 comment:

  1. Yes nice blog about 2 really good birds Colin.Even saw the Semi P myself but always distant, though haven't given up with it yet!!!


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