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Harrier, Montagu's

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:20 am

Super instructional thread. I followed it from the inset to the Forsman conclusion. It would be great if it could be neatened up and included in the bird index under the general topics.

Thanks to all contributors for their courage to give their views on this very difficult ID subject
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby JenB » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:35 am

Imax wrote:.........I sometimes wish that we can take all these in depth discussions and put it in a book.

When the time comes for it to be moved out of this topic, it will find it's way to this topic and here is another one. :wink:
Johan van Rensburg wrote:It would be great if it could be neatened up and included in the bird index under the general topics.

'K..... 8)
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby JOL » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:17 pm

Lizet Grobbelaar wrote:I photographed this ring-tail Harrier at Kgomo-kgomo this past weekend.
I would go for Pallid because of the very obvious pale collar and the broad brown band on the cheek.
[
Any takers with another opinion?

Jon are you out there...!?



Hi Lizet ,

Sorry to have missed out on the discussion regarding "your" harrier , but i haven't been online for a while , since I just came back from a 3 week trip to Ethiopia (african swallow-tailed kite , prince ruspoli's turaco , stresemann's bush-crow and lots of other interesting stuff - about 500 species all together) yesterday.
Anyway , I can see that it sparked a good debate which is often the case with these young/female-type harriers - surely the most tricky raptors together with some of the aquila-eagles! I haven't yet had time to read the many replies , but I can see that you came to the conclusion that it is in fact a montagu's harrier , and I agree with that!
I'm sure all the appropriate characters have been discussed in detail , and I can just say , that for me the two most obvious clinchers are the pattern on the primaries and the facial markings (lots of white both over and below the eye , and no dark/black eye-stripe).

Cheers
Jon

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Harrier, Montagu's

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:34 am

Apart from being a particularly graceful bird, the Montagu's harrier also has place of pride… or maybe I should rather say “humility” in my repertoire of birding stories… I saw my first Montagu’s earlier this year near Devon, a female bird that was first reported by Niall and which I twitched within the same week in exactly the same agricultural plot as reported by him. She sat on the ground, from where she surveyed the surrounding areas of low cereal vegetation for prey. When she took to the air, it was with powerful and elegant wing beats which gave an impression of buoyancy and effortlessness. In true harrier fashion it searched the countryside, flying low, generally holding its wings in an upwardly inclined manner. I got a number of reasonable photographs of the bird from which the ID could be confirmed.

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Large view

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Sexual dimorphism is particularly apparent in the plumage of Circus pygargus. Adult males are characterised by their overall pale grey plumage contrasting with black wingtips. Compared with other harriers this species has characteristic black bands along the secondaries, both above and below the wing and rusty streaks on belly and flanks. So, when I came across a male Montagu's harrier during an atlassing exercise near Cornelia in the Free State earlier this week, I nearly overturned my car in an effort to get my camera ready for a photograph! The bird was battling into a strong wind, making slow progress… it was going to cross over the nose of the Landrover! I anticipated the bird’s flight path and drove off the road to give me a good angle to work with through the side window…

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Large view

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The harrier eventually made it across the road and my angle through the window became too small. That is when I realised the error of my ways! The Landy wouldn’t follow: I had driven into a small stream and was thoroughly stuck in the mud! Some two hours later a farmer on a tractor came to my rescue. Fortunately he didn’t ask too many pertinent questions…

The Montagu's harrier is a long distance migrant. The few birds we see here are from Eurasia. Their diet consists mainly of small rodents, small birds and large insects hunted in areas of low or sparse vegetation. Prey is caught while flying along fixed routes at low heights and constant low speeds, as is typical of harriers. The flight of Montagu's harriers is considered lighter and more dexterous than other harriers enabling it to take more agile prey. When possible it often follows the edges of vegetation to shield it from the sight of potetial prey and it takes them by surprise after a short stoop. Fast running animals and flying birds are chased over a short distance.

This species can be found throughout most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is an uncommon visitor to South Africa.
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Re: Harrier, Montagu's

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Sat Jan 01, 2011 2:49 pm

Great shots of the male showing all the characteristics! :clap: c

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Guinea Pig » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:26 pm

Seen at Nwamba Pan on the Tropic of Capricorn Loop during December 2010. We initially thought it would be a kestrel, then I saw the photo's. White band with 4 bars on the tail. Is this a Montagu's Harrier?

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:18 pm

Definitely a ring-tail. Q is which one? Do you have more bird and less habitat? :twisted: :lol:

On second thoughts, there is enough info here - your ID is correct.
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby DuQues » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:26 pm

8) That's a good tick for us!
Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Guinea Pig » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:29 pm

The Harrier has turned into some discussion now. :D Some are leaning towards a Pallid Harrier. So, 2 more photo's (Mind you, NOT good photographically but they may help) of the same bird.

Image

Pallid? Montagu's? Or a totally different one! :lol:
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby michel367 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:41 pm

Definitely Montaques as a Pallid has 5 bars on it's tail. :thumbs_up:

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:53 pm

Tell 'em! Looks like my calls aren't trusted! :twisted:
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Guinea Pig » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:56 pm

michel367 wrote:Definitely Montaques as a Pallid has 5 bars on it's tail. :thumbs_up:


That's what I thought but apparently not? Are we missing something? :lol:
It's 3-2 in favour of Montagu's Female at the moment.
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:34 pm

I look but I don't see ANY posts fron doubters... Who are these nay-sayers? There is no doubt in my mind that it is a juvie Montagu's. And like michel367 says, the thickness (and number) of the bars in the tail is the clincher.
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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby michel367 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:09 pm

Exactly Johann and I have seen this particular one a few times myself last month.
Montaqu's it is. :thumbs_up:
No doubt in my mind about that one.
But hey. What do I know. I am a real fledgeling birder here. :lol:

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Re: Identification Help - Raptors

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:19 pm

michel367 wrote:Exactly Johann and I have seen this particular one a few times myself last month.
Montaqu's it is. :thumbs_up:
No doubt in my mind about that one.
But hey. What do I know. I am a real fledgeling birder here. :lol:


Oh!

Jeez, sounded like a real pro! Right on the money!
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