Friday, 28 September 2012

Late Honey Buzzard

A couple of reports of over 100 Dunlin (myrsnipe) plus some other waders at Årnestangen persuaded Rune and I out there today. With little wind, clear skies and overnight temperatures close to zero there was widespread fog and it wasn’t until around noon that it cleared, suddenly revealing a wealth of birds.
Wader numbers were much reduced but we did have 12 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plovers (sandlot), 2 Little Stints (dvergsnipe), 1 Knot (polarsnipe), 1 Lapwing (vipe) and 6 Snipe (enkeltbekkasin). We had two seperate resting flocks of 60 Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås)  one of which contained a Bean Goose (sædgås)(due to its large size most likely fabalis), and 2 flocks (90 and 110) heading south. These were my first Pink-feets of the year and it is always nice to hear the cackling of these geese as they fly over in their V-formations.
migrating Pink-footed Geese, my first of the autumn

Rune photographing waders at the end of Årnestangen

3 Brent Geese (ringgås)(which would be a year tick for me) were seen yesterday but we couldn’t find them although had a bit of fun with a flyover goose that turned out to be a poorly marked Barnacle Goose (hvitkinngås) in the end. The light was favourable for us to see and count the flock of Pochard (taffeland) which totalled a whopping 160. Other interesting ducks were a single Shoveler (skjeand) which had the largest bill I can remember seeing and 2 Pintail (stjertand).
On the passerine front 11 Long-tailed Tits were a great sight (I normally have only a handful of sightings each year) and they looked like they were on the move as we saw them fly into a small group of trees right at the tip of Årnestangen.
Raptors were represented by single Peregrine (vandrefalk), Merlin (dvergfalk) , Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) and a Honey Buzzard. When I first saw this last bird without bins I shouted out Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) as it had a long tail and relatively long wings. On looking at it through binoculars though it was clearly a Common (musvåk) or Honey Buzzard. My immediate impression on seeing the plumage was Common Buzzard which would also be the expected bird given the late date but it didn’t feel right. I got three bad pictures but and checking these out has shown that it was indeed a Honey Buzzard, a dark morph juvenile. The yellow bill shows it to be a juvenile, a plumage that I not too familiar with and also a plumage that is closer to Common Buzzard. The features pointing towards it being Honey are, the shape with the long tail and wings and the small, cuckoo like, protruding head. Plumage wise the pictures are unfortunately rather dark (although I have lightened them up as much as I could) but you can see the clearly barred tail, the broad black primary tips, the dark secondaries and the broad barring on the inner primaries all of which are features of Honey Buzzard not shown by Common. It is also uniformly dark on the body lacking the paler chest band normally shown by Common Buzzards.
dark juvenile Honey Buzzard. Ther long, banded tail, long wings and protruding cuckoo head can be seen here

dark juvenile Honey Buzzard. Yellow bill shows it to be a juvenile. Broad black tips to primaries with broad bars on innner primaries is feature of Honey vs Common Buzzard

Dark primaries are also a feature of juvenile Honey Buzzard

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