Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hen Harrier

I set off again this morning to search for the Scottish Bean Geese but morning fog that didn’t lift until after 1030 yet again hampered my search. I wonder whether the geese just sit it out at their roost site in such conditions and wait for the fog to lift before heading for the feeding grounds or maybe they can navigate through the fog?

Instead of hanging around waiting for the fog to lift I instead headed into Aurskog-Høland with the hope of finding some raptors and especially a Pallid Harrier (steppehauk) as these are turning up now. I wasn’t to succeed on that score but prolonged and fairly close views of a male Hen Harrier (myrhauk) really shouldn’t be sniffed at. This was quartering the fields by Hellesjøvannet where I also had a hunting Peregrine (vandrefalk) as well as Buzzard (musvåk) and Goshawk (hønsehauk) so I did have a few raptors for my troubles. Buzzards were conspicuous throughout the day either soaring or walking in fields searching for food.
Male Hen Harrier (myrhauk)

This bird is moulting its flight feathers. Hen Harriers usually have five prominent "fingers" formed by the primary feathers at the wing tips whereas this bird only has four. The similar Pallid and Montagus Harriers (enghauk) only show four fingers and this is normally a feature that is used to separate them. However whilst moulting Hen Harrier can also, as in this case, only show four fingers. This male is unlikely to be confused with the other species but a female could definitely invite confusion.
It is not clear to me which primary is missing (or not fully grown) but is I suspect P6 (with P10 being the outermost primary)
The colours in this picture are a bit extreme and the dark trailing edge to the wing was not as black as this in reality. The single dark feather on the underwing could be a sign if immaturity although otherewise the bird looks fully adult

Perhaps best bird of the day, at least for me, was my first ever Lapland Bunting (lapspurv) in Akershus. This long overdue event was like a London bus and once I had my first one then the second came along in quick succession. The first flew up calling with some Meadow Pipits (heipiplerke) at Hellesjøvannet and the second flew south calling at Svindal overlooking Nordre Øyeren.

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