While I love this blog, I now pretty much only write on my other two blogs: BirdingBlogs.com and 10,000 Birds - I would love to see you there!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Pallid Harrier in Innsbruck!

Oh yes, you read it right, a PALLID HARRIER IN INNSBRUCK!
This is a bird that has always occupied my imagination since I was a kid, but the closest I have ever come to seeing one was to pick up a Montagues Harrier near oNgoye in northeastern South Africa (also quite a find, but no Pallid Harrier).

not a great photo, but check out the pure white wings and body, and the black wedge wing tips (with a white leading edge, unlike the Hen Harrier and Montagu's Harrier)

Anyhow, the Pallid Harriers are supposed to migrate from eastern Africa and various parts of Asia, up to their breeding areas in Ukraine and further east in Asia. So why a Pallid Harrier decided to visit the still snowy Alps is something of a mystery to me.

After a morning birding at my local patch (the Inzinger Gaisau), Andreas and I headed across to Ehnbachklamm to quickly look for Wallcreeper (without luck), and then stopped in front of Martinswand (the huge cliff overlooking Innsbruck) to look for the Peregrine pair that I had seen hunting there fairly often lately.

As we soaked in the very welcome sun, we scanned the cliff for anything interesting (Eagle Owls, Wallcreeper...).
Two pairs of Eurasian Kestrel circled laxidasically.
Ooh, "what's that", cries Andreas
I only need a second's look to know that I really wanted to have my camera ready. So, I left the ID stuff to Andreas and frantically tried to find it with my digiscoping setup. But it was just one of those days when nothing photo-wise works...
So I abanoded that as a bad idea so to get a better look through the bins. Andreas got a good look through the scope. It was when it caught something that we got great view of it eating.



A little bit of video of the Pallid Harrier feeding way up high on the Martinswand. The video was taken at 150x magnification as it was sooo far (putting a lot of strain on the silly little lens that comes with the Canon A590IS I use for digiscoping).

It was perched on the cliff, eating, for a good half hour before it headed off to the West. Wolfgang and Silvia joined us the quarry (Steinbruch) in Zirl where we got great views of Alpine Swifts and Crag Martins, but no Pallid Harrier anywhere.
Idle chit chat...

And suddenly it popped up from the field right next to us, circled a few times right over us and then slowly headed back towards the main Martinswand cliff...

Happy birding,
Dale

p.s. if I get a few moments over the next couple of days, I will write a blog about the Alpine Swifts and the Rock Buntings I found this morning

13 comments:

Sharon said...

CONGRATULATIONS on your sighting! My son loves to travel to your area to go B.A.S.E. jumping. Don't know if you birders like base jumpers...probably not because they scare off all the wildlife! He has a wingsuit too so sometimes he does fly like a bird.

"The desire to reach for the sky runs deep in our human psyche."
Cesar Pelli

Denise said...

How exciting for you, great capture of a very beautiful bird. I enjoyed reading your post so much. Thank you!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What luck Dale. This like that Yellow Wagtail they photographed on the beach down in the Cape a year or two ago, totally out of its normal migratory path.

Abe Lincoln said...

What a nice capture this was. I wish there was something to equal it here.

Matt Latham said...

Brilliant Dale - have only ever seen one, in Greece, and would love to catch up with one in the UK.

Dale Forbes said...

Hi All, I have just added a little bit of video to the blog post. Not great because I was using 150x magnification on the little Canon A590IS camera that I use for digiscoping (the fancy DSLR I had a couple of weeks ago was a loan camera that I had for the weekend). It works quite well, particularly when used without camera zoom, but the combination of using the camera's optical zoom and the huge distances means that the video is not that great.

No sign of the Harrier today, despite fairly heavy searching

Abe Lincoln said...

To answer your question about Mourning Doves. No, if one is seen anytime of the day it is a Mourning Dove. The name is due to its mournful call or song. The name is not related to the time of day, morning, evening etc.

Thanks for your visit to my birds blog.

John Theberge said...

Great photo and I enjoyed the video also.

James said...

Well done Dale, is the photo at the top of the blogpost the same bird? If so definitely Pallid - they now breed occasionally in western Europe with a mixed pair in the Shetlands (with Hen Harrier) and a pair in the Camargue I believe. Definitely expanding westward as they are more or less annual in the UK these days.

Dale Forbes said...

yup James, the photo in the blog post is my very mildly successful attempt at digiscoping a flying bird while shaking fairly uncontrollably.

Leslie said...

What a harrier sighting! Good spot.


*I Donated to Cornell Ornithology!*
http://www.opticsplanet.net/cornell-lab-of-ornithology.html

Pam said...

Great spot Dale, i've never seen a Harrier of any sort!

T and S said...

I m a sucker for raptors and you have loads of luck with them Dale.