Saturday, 25 November 2017

Unexpected Hen Harrier

On Friday I had the company of Forde Falkenberg who was over from Bergen. We visited Fornebu where Bearded Tits were the main target. Before I met up with Frode I had visited both Holtekilen and Storøykilen and seen or heard the birds in both places. With Frode though it was a bit more difficult. In Holtekilen we heard a couple of birds ping but try as we might we could not see them. In Storøykilen after a lot of work we did see a pair low down amongst the reeds but they were really not interested in showing themselves.

One bird which did show itself and which was entirely unexpected was a Hen Harrier. When we arrived at Storøykilen we saw and heard a lot of angry Crows. When we then saw them chasing a large pale bird of prey I immediately thought it was a young Goshawk but on raising the bins I saw it was a ringtail Hen Harrier. The Crows continued giving it grief and it disappeared after a couple of minutes but certainly made the day. This species has attempted to overwinter here a couple of times in the past but with all the development that has occurred in recent years there is very little undisturbed open ground left for the species to hunt over (Kestrels have already thrown in the towel) so it was a real surprise that it was also seen today (Saturday) which indicates that it may well stay around for a bit.

the bird was barely bigger than the Crows and was therefore most likely a juvenile male but we did not see enough plumage characters to confirm that

5 "fingers" though confirms it was a Hen and not a Pallid Harrier

an out of focus shot though gives the bird a very different jizz!

the Crows did not give it any peace

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