Monday, 17 August 2015

It's Honey Buzzard HOT

As the Sun would say It’s Hot, Hot, Hot. This week, just as school starts up again, we are experiencing by far the best weather of the summer. Temperatures are approaching 25C and it is very hot in the sun. This type of weather might be welcomed by the majority of people but it is hardly ideal for birding with perhaps the exception of soaring raptors although they can easily end up too high up and with no clouds very difficult to pick out.

I cycled up into Maridalen today to (1) give my body some much needed exercise and (2) to hopefully see a bit more than my normal route of driving and stopping at certain places. As feared there were generally few birds on show although between 10-11am raptors put on a bit of a show although nearly always at a bit too long range and whenever I made attempts to come closer they would disappear and new birds would pop up right over where I had previously been. I had 6 definite sightings of Honey Buzzards with a minimum of three birds involved. None of the birds seemed to be migrating and two birds gave their wing clapping display flight although not together. Apparently they do this quite regularly late in the breeding season over feeding grounds so these could have been birds stating to other Honey Buzzards that this is my patch stay out. I saw and photographed one bird twice with 2 hours and 1.3km between the sightings. This bird then soared off towards the north east and covered ca.2km very quickly. They clearly have very large feeding territories and the records and photos I have seen suggest that there are a couple of pairs using Maridalen although I believe they are nesting in the surrounding forests rather than in the valley itself.

In addition to the Honey Buzzards I had at least 4 Common Buzzards which were in a thermal together but I had at least 3 other sightings which may have been additional birds but could all just relate to the same locally bred family. Two Goshawks, an Osprey, a Sparrowhawk and a couple of Ravens completed the tally.

Whinchats (17) and Yellow Wagtails (17) were present in good numbers although only 2 Willow Warblers makes me even more worried for this species and warblers in general as I noted no other species. A single Red-backed Shrike was the best passerine of the day.

Crossbills continue to be heard all over the place and are clearly mostly Common Crossbills. There have been quite a few records of Two-barred Crossbills but I have yet to have a definite record. Today I heard some trumpety like calls but didn’t see the birds giving the call and with my previous experience of Common Crossbills giving surprising trumpet like calls I have chosen to let these ones lie.

In the garden I am regularly hearing a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker early in the mornings. Today it was calling at 0630 and yesterday at 0610. It seems to have a regular circuit that takes it through our garden and it is the large willow where this species has previously excavated holes that brings it to me.

The strong sun made it very difficult to take pictures today but here are a few of the Honey Buzzard I managed to record.

Here the bird can be seen to be calling and this was the first time I can remember hearing this species

note the translucent inner primaries which are a good feature of this species.

the grey head and little barring on the primaries and secondaries point to this being a male.

With the missing primary and other plumage features this would appear to be a different individual than I have previously photographed

this photo was taken 2 hours later than the previous photos but the missing primary and the light area in the tail (also a missing feather?) show it to be the same bird

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