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Bird ID (Spain)

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Old Sunday 19th July 2020, 19:18   #1
SLopezM
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Bird ID (Spain)

Hello everyone. I saw this bird early this morning in Ávila (Spain). It was very far away, so this was the best picture I could take. The area includes pine trees, rock cliffs, vineyards and water bodies. The bird seemed to be medium size (although it was difficult to tell due to the distance): in my opinion, the size was similar to some Falco bird. However, don't consider this as a very realiable information, since I am not totally sure about it.
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Old Sunday 19th July 2020, 21:49   #2
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Difficult to safely put an identification to I'm afraid. Could even be a red necked nightjar going to roost.
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Old Sunday 19th July 2020, 22:17   #3
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That was my thought from the thumbnail, Pat, but I did not respond before as I could not see that for the enlarged photo!
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Old Monday 20th July 2020, 08:31   #4
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I guess knowing the species will be almost impossible, but I hope it is possible to classify it in a genus, family, etc.

The bird was seen flying far from the floor. It made some big circles in the air and then disappeared (I don't know if it landed or flew away: I lost it while taking the picture).

Some other people have told me it looks like an Accipiter bird, although I am not sure about that.
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Old Monday 20th July 2020, 21:11   #5
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Old Monday 20th July 2020, 22:32   #6
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best guess is moulting Kestrel
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 03:06   #7
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This bird is surely about a mile away, so reasonably large raptor imo

Best guess from me is an imm. male Marsh Harrier (which might explain the ‘chaotic’ plumage colouring, including a stand out pale tail and pale rump and given their almost limitless variability!)

compare here

https://raybrownwildlifephotography....Harrier-10.jpg
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 06:58   #8
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Has a 'feel' of Marsh Harrier to me too but impossible to be 100%.

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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 15:00   #9
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could also be Buteo vulpinus? Too warm/reddish brown for an Accipiter for me, not sure if wings long enough for Circus?
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 15:28   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevethehydra View Post
could also be [i]Buteo vulpinus[/I
In Spain?
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 16:00   #11
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Marsh harrier was my first impression but the image is really impossible to identify with any confidence
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 17:36   #12
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I'm with the 'impossible to tell group' but I'd suggest that the apparent tail length rules out Buzzard (of any sort)
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 19:56   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb Burhinus View Post
In Spain?
Depends on your take on cirtensis and then Gibraltar Buzzard.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 20:17   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur View Post
Depends on your take on cirtensis and then Gibraltar Buzzard.
which are also known as the ‘Atlas’ Long-legged Buzzards of North Africa so cirtensis are a subspecies of Buteo rufinus not vulpinus. There are no proven records of Steppe Buzzard (vulpinus (which are considered to be the eastern form of Common Buzzard) in Spain afaik, even though the plumages can be similar between the taxon and there are contact zones between all the ranges (‘Gibralter Buzzard’ would be (if truly hybrids) buteo x cirtensis
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 15:20   #15
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Sorry for my inaccurate use of vulpinus then - that's what I thought the smallish, rufous-toned buzzards in Spain were! I would definitely consider them to be much more like Common/Steppe types than Long-legged in size and structure.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 15:23   #16
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Originally Posted by stevethehydra View Post
Sorry for my inaccurate use of vulpinus then - that's what I thought the smallish, rufous-toned buzzards in Spain were!
And that’s a legitimate debate according to some but it’s not the current taxonomy! AFAIA
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 16:40   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb Burhinus View Post
which are also known as the ‘Atlas’ Long-legged Buzzards of North Africa so cirtensis are a subspecies of Buteo rufinus not vulpinus. There are no proven records of Steppe Buzzard (vulpinus (which are considered to be the eastern form of Common Buzzard) in Spain afaik, even though the plumages can be similar between the taxon and there are contact zones between all the ranges (‘Gibralter Buzzard’ would be (if truly hybrids) buteo x cirtensis
Except cirtensis is considered closer to vulpinus than rufinus and in need taxonomic revision. Dick Forsmann also considers Gibraltar buzzards to show features intermediate to cirtensis and vulpinus. Go figure!
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 17:13   #18
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Originally Posted by Hotspur View Post
. Go figure!
Indeed, there are difficulties separating Atlas LLB from some Steppe plumages but the N.African LLBs are also highly variable and apparently afaik, can in turn be almost inseparable in some plumages from the Asian LLBs, so it’s not just a case of ‘lets lump’ cirtensis with vulpinus - if it were that simple! The whole lot needs revising - don’t start me on refectus/burmanicus/japonicus! The problem I find with Buteos imo especially vulpinus and buteos is they don’t lend themselves at all well to defined phenotypes unless at the typical ends of a scale (can anyone actually define what a vulpinus is!) which leaves most of us in a pickle when it comes to field identification. There are structural differences but I personally find that really hard to recognise at times (well actually a great deal of the time). It doesn’t help, that subsp are also are highly sympatric (and proven to interbreed) in contact zones as well as being both migratory and sedentary.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 20:24   #19
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Re the OP: harrier sp was my immediate impression.

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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 21:23   #20
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As I understand it recent DNA studies show that North African Buzzards cirtensis are most closely related to Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) not Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) and should be treated as a race of the former. So if they are 'lumped' it is with Buteo buteo rather than Buteo buteo vulpinus unless one regards the latter as a full species.

De Juana & Garcia's 'Birds of the Iberian Peninsula' says that Steppe Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus) 'occur in Spain on passage, with occasional records south to the Straits. This form is identified at the Pyrenean passes in autumn more or less annually and represents about 1.3% of the passage at Orgambidexka and continues that 'Bernis recorded 61 birds in 1972, 28 in 1976 and 16 in 1977 on southward passage at the Strait' but 'queried whether the birds were genuinely vulpinus ..." or local birds. The latter now seems much more likely. As always I am happy to be corrected on these points since I'm no taxonomist.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 22:25   #21
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Thanks John that’s interesting - My original comments were simply to reflect the current taxonomic situation not to start a long debate, so apologies for going off topic! I think we all agree there are a lot of slippery slopes here. Regarding observations quoted above from the 70’s and the Southward movements through the Straits, it would be interesting to know if these were what are now regarded as the Gibraltar buzzards that I mentioned earlier the ( local rufous type birds Dick Forseman regards as hybrids B.b.b.x B.r.c.. or maybe we’ve moved on from that, I don’t know!) https://www.magornitho.org/2012/09/gibraltar-buzzard/

I believe there have been studies of hybrid buteo introgression into cirtensis on the North African side of the straits (I cant recall where I read that) but it would lend support to a two way gene flow between two sedentary populations of these B.b.b x B.r.c hybrids which along with the DNA studies referred to above, giving credence to the reorganisation of the taxa in the direction you state.

I’m not a taxonomist either - I just want to be able to identify the ruddy things!

Apologies SLopez for derailing your thread, I’ll stop now
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2020, 22:55   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
As I understand it recent DNA studies show that North African Buzzards cirtensis are most closely related to Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) not Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) and should be treated as a race of the former.
That's what I've understood too, but as yet, IOC* haven't transferred it [yet]. So it's still 'officially' Buteo rufinus cirtensis

* scroll to near the end of the page for Buteo.
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Old Friday 24th July 2020, 12:06   #23
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Sorry for not answering before. First of all, thank you all for your answers. I guess we will never be sure what this bird was. The harrier seems okay to me in colour, although my impression at the field was a smaller size. However, as someone said above, the distance between the bird and me was huge, so it was difficult to tell the exact size of the bird.
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