3rd October. The Firsby Harrier Saga

I got a call from Andy D over the weekend, asking if I'd looked at the photos he'd emailed me of a Ring-tailed Harrier at Firsby on the Rotherham/Doncaster border?  Unfortunately he'd sent it to one of my many defunct email accounts so I asked him to send it again.  Initially reported earlier in September as a Hen Harrier and seen several times subsequently.  Andy, having received photos of the bird became suspicious when the appeared to show a four 'fingered' wing tip and was concerned that perhaps it could be something far rarer and asked a few of us what we thought - without mentioning his suspicions?  Now I'm no raptor expert - or any kind of expert come to that - but when I looked at the original pics I was concerned. Concerned that not only was it not a Hen but that it might infact  not even be a Monty's but a Pallid. My response to Andy suggested that it had a very obvious collar (ruling out Monty's) four 'fingers' with no evidence of any primary re-growth (ruling out Hen) the wings didn't look narrow and long like Monty's being broad and more Hen like but those 4 'fingers'?

Fortunately it was still present on Monday and Andy managed some
further photos, that I'm sure he won't mind me reproducing one below.

Fortunately it was still present this morning and following a couple of emails from well respected birders the general consensus was that it was an adult female Pallid Harrier.

The site is particularly sensitive in that it is only accessed by a very narrow road with little parking. Taking these factors into account news was released on the proviso that visiting birders respect the residents.

Photo Andy Deighton

A small gathered crowd late afternoon enjoyed good views in decent light as it circled the field before dropping into roost at 18:10. 

I suspect that we haven't heard the last of this yet and may even be proven wrong, a small group of conferring 'experts' as I left were studying books and video footage, though were  not particularly vocal!
The best I could manage distantly and at 1600 ISO

Talking with Andy this evening, neither of us could think of a British adult female Pallid Harrier record, surely there must be?


Dean Eades said...


John Hague said...

Looking at Forsman this morning - nailed on female Pallid. It would be the first record if accepted. I believe there was another but the record, despite extensive notes, was not accepted by the BBRC. Maybe they will review that record in light of this.

Paul Bright-Thomas said...

There was an adult female (Spring) claimed at Lydd in 2002, with photographs, but rejected. Pallids were a lot rarer then. There's still a link to the photos at http://www.kentos.org.uk/Photographs/02femPallidHarrier.htm