Pallid Harrier: First-summer individual in post-juvenile moult in Havelland

SteppenweiheDescribed in old literature as a rare vagrant, the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is much less rare in NW Europe nowadays. It is not yet clear, whether this is due to the numbers of birders in the field, increasing knowledge of the immature and adult female plumage, migrations watchpoints or due to a change in the migration patterns of this bird species. At least on the coast and in the eastern parts of Germany Pallid Harriers can be regarded as scarce migrants now. Visiting the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – very interesting observations of a hunting immature Pallid Harrier could be made. The lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch are an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect habitat for raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus), Western marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) visit the area in high numbers.

Remarkable with the Pallid Harrier of the Havellaendische Luch was, that it concerned a individual that starts ist first complete moult. For the Netherlands a comparable phenomena was described for the the spring of 2012 in an article in Birding Frontiers, which describes the progress of the chancing plumage of an 2nd cy Pallid Harrier which was found on the 6th of May and stayed in the county Drenthe until at least the end of August.

For the Pallid Harrier of the Havelland it was on or just before 19th of May that the moult started; both p1 were dropped and on 25 May (see image of the blog) at least p2 and p3 on both sides. From the bird in the Netherland it was descriebed, that the primary moult took a sprint with up to p5 dropped on 5 June. Also many greater upperwing coverts were dropped, but no underwing coverts. Until 14 June no extra primaries were dropped but new p1-p5 were more than half grown.

There was a discussion concering the sex of the bird. Luckily I had the book “Collins Birds of Prey” by Benny Gensboel and Walther Thiede of Europe, with its detailed identification also of difficult species in their young, juvenile and adult variation, also showing IDs of flying birds. Therefore, I made the (provisional) determination of a immature male. To prove the ID Urs N. Glutz Blotzheim descriptions in his “Handbook of the birds of Central Europe”, Volume 4 “Falconiformes” unfortunately was not of great value in this regard.

In order to meet the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western Palearctic. Trips to remote places but also excursions to the neighborhood like in this case to capture images of rare birds of western Palearctic were very successful. The nice image of the blog (or what you find in the gallery) is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture-Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.


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