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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:05 am 
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Not quite sure of the eagle/kite.
An Imm Kite is normally lighter in colour than this bird with more buff on it, the adult also has a greyish head. This bird to me has no kite adult or Imm features.
I am still leaning towards Steppe Eagle - A.n. orientalis
Will look at more ref tonight.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:50 am 
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RE: Elsa's raptor

This bird is clearly an Eagle of the Aquila genus but that's about as much as I can say with any certainty. The head and bill is much too robust for a Kite.

As for the specific identity of the bird, I'm not sure I can really clinch this one (but I am sure better birders than me can). What I would point out is that the bird's iris is brown. This would suggest that the bird is a Steppe Eagle, Booted Eagle (clearly not), Greater Spotted Eagle (yeah right!) or Wahlberg's Eagle (which again, this bird's head and bill is just too robust for).

So it's easy right? We've narrowed it down to 4 candidates of which 3 have been ruled out. Now for the bummer, I'm going to rule out Steppe Wagle also. :twisted:
Even with the orientalis race the gape reaches far below the eye which this one just doesn't. I dont have any literature with me now but as far as I can remember the orientalis gape will still reach at least as far back as the back of the eye. As a matter of interest, the nipalensis race does not migrate to southern Africa but rather south Asia. This means that orientalis is the only one we will ever see in these parts.

Another reason why I doubt Steppe Eagle is because it should show an oval nostril while this bird seems to have round nostrils.

So what bird is this then if all brown-eyed Aquilas have been ruled out? Well, I think it is an immature Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) but I am not sure enough that I would personally have ticked it.

The immature LSE does have a brown iris and, importantly a round nostril. The paler patch on the hind crown would suggest that it is quite a young bird. It is worth noting that almost all Lesser Spotted Eagles recorded in southern Africa are immatures.

Another thing worth pointing out is that Steppe Eagles are highly gregarious and are virtually always seen in flocks. Lesser Spotted Eagles may occur in flocks with Steppe Eagles but are usually encountered solitary. The Lesser Spotted Eagle is also well known to feed on termite alates on the ground.

What worries me though is the absence of a narrow white line on the upperwing and absence of white spotting on wing coverts.

In conclusion, I'm sorry but I can't identify your eagle for you but I doubt it is a Steppe Eagle and I know it is not a Kite. I do believe that the pictures are good enough to clinch an ID so keep trying. There's a raptor fundi out there who can ID the bird I'm sure.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:39 pm 
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Wow, deefstes, now you can imagine how much arguing was going on the car as we all had a guess at what this bird could be.
We had a variety of bird and raptor field guides among us and were still not coming to any clear answers, each one seeming to have a couple of similarities but not quite. :?
This bird was just North of Tshokwane if thats any help.
Thanks for the help so far, I have checked the Lesser Spotted Eagle out in my Roberts but even that doesn't seem to have an illustration, unless they are listing it under a different name. :? But I must admit I think you could be pretty close.
Thanks for all the info.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:24 pm 
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Thanks for some more info Deefstes. It just didn't say Steppe to me. The bill on the Steppe is quite big and strong. This bird didn't give me the same feeling. And of course the nostril seemed to be the wrong shape.

Looking again at it, in daytime this time around, I see what you mean about also being to robust for a Kite.

I think I'll go with the Lesser-spotted idea. Latest Sasol does show a imm./juv Lesser-spotted and it doesn't have the white markings on the wing like the adult does.

Posting the pics on another site on behalf of Elsa. Let's see what they've got to say.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:27 pm 
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deefstes wrote:
No, Roberts must have an illustration for it (unless you're using a very strange version of Roberts that I've never seen.


Oops, found it, it helps if you look on both sides of the illustrated page. :redface: bad Monday morning.
I have the very latest weighty tome. :wink:

Thanks for the ongoing help, yes must admit that pics does look very similar but then they all look so alike to me. :roll:
Johann has very kindly offered to send my pics to an online birdclub who can possibly help out as well. :D

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Last edited by Elsa on Mon Jan 22, 2007 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 4:13 pm 
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Here goes my opinion (and my neck) and this is not from a raptor authority. The colour seems to light if I compare all the guides I have. Another thing that bothers me on it being a GSE is the colouration at the back of the neck. It doesn't state this anywhere in the literature I have. Also the lack of spots is
making me question the id.

It seems more in line with Steppe Eagle. Saying this the gape seems wrong (should go behind the eye in Steppe and here it seems to stop in the middle of the eye. This might be the angle of photo but I won't bet on that.

The gape might even suggest Tawny Eagle. Roberts VII refers to the sighting of GSE as needing confirmation and then states that it is very similar to Lesser Spotted and Tawny Eagle.

Foraging wise Roberts states that Steppe Eagle is often found at emerging termite swarms. GSE food preferences are given as mammals and carrion (according to Birds of Europe and mice and frogs on a paper on GSE on the i-net). Lesser Spotted Eagle is also noted as visiting termite eruptions (mounds).

I would say this is a Steppe Eagle with the information available to me. (Now for the gullotine) :redface:

This is added after reading Niall's post (on simplybirding.co.za - Niall Perrins). How often is Booted Eagle seen at termite mounds? Roberts states that the preferred food for Booted Eagle is other bird species.

I do think the angle of the photo on the head (bill) makes estemates a little more difficult. I do think the photographic angle creates the "funny" face of this eagle.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 5:08 pm 
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This is more of the same Eagle that we have and I have left him in large size for possible easier ID, sorry Mods.

Image

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:12 pm 
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Further to Elsa's posting (she is now in the kitchen) I have captured some pics from the video we took to help with the identity. One pic shows the Eagle with Starlings and a flying ant for size estimation and the others its legs and flying colours. Sorry the flying ones are a bit blurred but it is difficult to hold the eagle in frame while filming.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Hope these help. Thanks to all for the effort so far, really appreciated.


Last edited by Klystron on Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:06 pm 
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Thanks Klystron.

I'll add these to the other pics tomorrow morning. Most things point to Lesser-spotted at the moment.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:48 pm 
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the pic I have of a lesser Spotted eagle has light eyes, but Elsa's bird has dark eyes :?


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:55 pm 
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Hi Klystron I would say your bird is a steppe eagle - with the dark eye and slight yellow round the beak - Lesser Spotted and Booted eagle have light yellowish eyes - hope that helps


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:38 pm 
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Great pics Klystron and Elsa. I'm afraid but I still can't help you reach a conclusion but I'm sure, with these pictures you are going to be able to identify the bird.

One thing that these new pictures reveal which I'm sure will help in the identification process is the stove-pipe appearance of the legs. Notice how tight the feathers are around the lower legs. This rules out Steppe Eagle and most definitely Booted Eagle if any doubt still existed wether it could be that species. In fact, it rules out just about everything but Lesser Spotted Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagle.

Look, given the evidence at hand, I would probably have ticked Lesser Spotted Eagle but I would have been ignoring Greater Spotted Eagle not based on ID features but purely because I never realistically expect to see it and I don't expect that I'd be able to identify it anyway. But for now, I will stick with my original ID of LSE.

I'm very curious to hear on what grounds Greater Spotted Eagle was suggested and I hope we will still get to see that. I am not at all familiar with GSE and would love to hear why this bird reminds of GSE.

Just two more comments:
@ Bok bok - It is true that LSE has yellow eyes but they do have brown eyes in juvenile plumage, which is typically the plumage that we see them in here in southern Africa.

@ Hanno - I don't have the Roberts VII texts with me but Roberts VI states that the GSE record from Nylsvley is unsubstantiated. This does not mean that doubt exists as to the veracity of the record but simply that no-one other than the original observers saw the bird.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:59 am 
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Deefstes - Roberts VII says that the GSE record needs confirmation. It might have been, I am not questioning the only other sighting nor the people, but without photographic proof it is going to be hard to accept it as a formal part of our list.

A new rarities comitee has been establish and hopefully some meausre of order will be established amongst which rarities are excepted and which not.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:18 am 
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HannoLangenhoven wrote:
Deefstes - Roberts VII says that the GSE record needs confirmation. It might have been, I am not questioning the only other sighting nor the people, but without photographic proof it is going to be hard to accept it as a formal part of our list.

A new rarities comitee has been establish and hopefully some meausre of order will be established amongst which rarities are excepted and which not.


Now imagine if that rarities committee included a world class raptor expert like, let's say Dick Forsman, author of "The Raptors of Europe and the Middle East" and one of the birders who observed and identified the Greater Spotted Eagle at Nylsvley.

I don't see how there can be any doubt as to the veracity of that record. So I'm curious to now what sort of confirmation the Roberts VII writers would have wanted.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:28 pm 
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Just two more comments:
@ Bok bok - It is true that LSE has yellow eyes but they do have brown eyes in juvenile plumage, which is typically the plumage that we see them in here in southern Africa.

Hi deeftes I agree with you that the LSE Juve has yellowish eys but wouldn't you say the plumage of a juve would be drabber with a fair bit of small white baring on the wings unlike the photographed bird? I would say that bird looks like a steppe eagle to me I have no idea about a GSE as I have never seen one.

I would also disagree with you about the legs - as the feathers do not seem to be tightly packed at all they seem to be fairly bushy all the way down as opposed to bushy at the top becoming thinner and packed at the bottom of the legs like a LSE - but hey then again I could always have transpossed my IDing on these two eagle all the while :lol: :lol: :lol:


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