Immature Pallid Harrier on migration in southern Brandenburg/ Germany

In April I was in the so-called Niederer Fläming (Lower Flaeming), a gently sloping landscape in southern Brandenburg. I had an incredible experience that I will not soon forget. I had the opportunity to observe a young Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus). A beautiful clear morning kept the Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) soaring and cheering over the vast fields of fresh greenery. In a wide valley, which delimits the upper reaches of the small river Nuthe, I could observe a Harrier in the distance. Obviously a female or a young individual, because the brown of the plumage could be seen from afar. In the distance, hovering in foraging flight over the lush green cattle pasture, head down, she came closer. She flew so elegantly, as if she were floating. It was a very impressive spectacle. Eventually she flew right past my car and even looked over at me. But then again she devoted herself to searching for prey on the ground.

It made me happy to watch the bird fly and explore its surroundings in search of food.

I was able to take extensive photos of the still quite young Harrier. I first identified her as a second calendar-year female Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus). The wings looked pretty wide to me. But the wide collar and the dark secondaries of the underwing irritated me. The query with raptor experts then revealed that it had been an immature Pallid Harrier. The 4 fingers of the palm were clearly visible, the already mentioned well-defined contrasting collar and the sharply contrasting dark secondaries on the underwing gave indications of this species. The non-striped immature rump plumage and coloring of the underwing-coverts then ruled out a young Hen Harrier.

Usually early Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus) or late Hen Harriers are in the area at this time of year. So it’s worth taking a closer look at everyday situations. With species that are closely related, it is easy to overlook a rarity.

Although it has to be said that the year before I was able to see and photograph an adult male of the Pallid Harrier in Niederen Fläming quite close to this site. With a measured temperature of 4° C, snow showers and a strong easterly wind, a bird sitting in the winter grain was spotted between the green stalks of grain thanks to its strikingly white head.

Having already seen the Harrier on trips in the month of September on its migratory route along the Black Sea coast near south of the Danube Delta and on the Black Sea coast of Romania and on the Volga River in Russia, I was surprised at this eastern steppe bird so early in the year year to see in Germany.

Pallid Harriers are not so rare to see in Africa in their winter quarters in South Africa (Krüger Park), Kenya (Tsavo) and Tanzania (Serengeti). According to AviDatabase, the Pallid Harrier breeds primarily in the steppes of Asian Russia, Kazakhstan and northwestern China. Some breeding pairs winter in south-eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. They appear both on the way home and on the way to Central Europe.

The Pallid Harrier is a rare and extremely beautiful bird creature in Germany that is at home in the wide steppes of eastern Europe. It is a tall, elegant bird with a long, slender body. Harriers are known for their breathtaking flight maneuvers, which they perform low over the ground while chasing prey.

It was an unbelievable day when I was allowed to observe a Pallid Harrier in Fläming near Jüterbog in southern Brandenburg/ Germany. I am very grateful that I had the chance to see a rarity in its natural habitat. It’s a day that won’t soon be forgotten.

To meet the growing demand for top-of-the-line images of the rarer Palaearctic species, strives to expand the range of images of Western Palaearctic birds. Keeping the eyes open in the immediate vicinity is often crowned with beautiful impressions and some rare observations. The blog’s nice picture is just a first impression, which you can find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Please leave a message if can provide a picture or more.

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