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Identifying raptors when soaring (UK) (1 Viewer)

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
Which raptor species in the UK, usually are seen soaring in the UK (besides Buzzard)?

And what is their soaring style compared to Buzzard?

Sometimes I struggle to identify a soaring raptor, if views are poor or in distance. So I want to consider all soaring raptors and also their subtle differences in when soaring, to distinguish them from the common buzzard, if I spot a soaring raptor in distance.

Species often soaring:
Buzzard (soaring in circles, with wings raised, and flapping a couple of times at regular points when circling)
Golden Eagle (a more relaxed and gliding flying style, less wing beats than buzzard)
Osprey (wings more arched down, but soaring style seems more similar to buzzard)
Peregrine (soaring less in circles and with more direct lines, and faster - more occasional less regular wing beats)
Honey Buzzard (soar with level wings - but I never seen one so I can't say much)
Red Kite (a more buoyant style and seemingly effortlessly, less wing beats - of course their silhouette is quite distinctive)

Seen soaring less often:
Goshawk (using more powerful wing beats in-between the soaring circles)
Sparrowhawk (the typical fast flap-flap glide is the only thing I can think of, which is rather different - do sparrowhawks and goshawks soar often?)

Do these species ever soar? I have never seen them soaring:

Kestrel, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Owls?

Please feel free to correct me, and add your thoughts for each species. Thanks,
 

Butty

Well-known member
All UK raptors soar. Harriers don't do it much, but I daresay I've seen them do it - sometime. somewhere.
Can't recall ever seeing an owl soar.
Otherwise... you seem to have this topic pretty well covered already (y)
 

curlewsandpiper1980

Well-known member
How about merlins, do they often soar? I have also never seen a kestrel soaring, despite seeing them very often.


Yesterday I saw a raptor soaring high above (location N Scotland, mountain valley). It was a distant view (it was soaring high) but it wasn't a buzzard, wings looked more sparrowhawk or peregrine, and with a long tail. I thought sparrowhawk that would have been unlikely (the habitat around barely had trees), so I reckon it was a peregrine as that was a location with known peregrine. The raptor did not flap the wings, it just soared higher and higher in the thermals.
 

KenM

Well-known member
Regarding Sprawks they are inveterate soarers. Indeed living at canopy level for many years between two territories, I can say that my encounters...ie dashing v soaring is more likely to be with the latter than the former, where they are most visible and are not in stealth hot pursuit mode through the “leafage”.

My experience of Goshawk is more limited however I rarely see them “on high” they seem to function from ground to canopy level and rarely break cover...stealth personified except during the early Spring display period.

Regarding Merlins, I’ve only witnessed soaring (twice), but then I don’t see them that often.

Marsh Harrier and Short-eared Owl...I’ve seen soaring albeit limited for the former (a couple of circuits before levelling off) and when being chased off by Corvids for the latter, when they can go quite high.

As for Kestrels, I’m surprised that you’ve not seen them soar, for me it seems to be quite usual, particularly before they start hovering.

Cheers
 

Butty

Well-known member
As for Kestrels, I’m surprised that you’ve not seen them soar, for me it seems to be quite usual, particularly before they start hovering.
I don't understand this statement. Certainly, kestrels soar - but saying that this description of them is 'usual' behaviour suggests that you are using a different definition of 'soar'.
 

KenM

Well-known member
I don't understand this statement. Certainly, kestrels soar - but saying that this description of them is 'usual' behaviour suggests that you are using a different definition of 'soar'.
By definition (where is it in text) as to how many circles constitute a “soar pattern” as opposed to a flap round.
Clearly more than one....imo several at least would be required to “aspire” to a pattern?
 

KenM

Well-known member
Goshawk soars habitually, Short-eared Owl occasionally (perhaps more on migration?)

John
Agree with the latter John, however Gos is in low density where I live, therefore no need to “give it the large”....perhaps unlike the New Forest that enjoys a not insubstantial population?

Cheers
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Agree with the latter John, however Gos is in low density where I live, therefore no need to “give it the large”....perhaps unlike the New Forest that enjoys a not insubstantial population?

Cheers
It's not all about display though, in NF and Forest of Dean they soar to wait on for passing pigeons outside the display season. A stooping Goshawk is worth seeing!

John
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I recall Harriers soaring with some regularity when seen on raptor migration hotspots.
Niels
 

Sangahyando

Well-known member
Which raptor species in the UK, usually are seen soaring in the UK (besides Buzzard)?

And what is their soaring style compared to Buzzard?

Sometimes I struggle to identify a soaring raptor, if views are poor or in distance. So I want to consider all soaring raptors and also their subtle differences in when soaring, to distinguish them from the common buzzard, if I spot a soaring raptor in distance.

Species often soaring:
Buzzard (soaring in circles, with wings raised, and flapping a couple of times at regular points when circling)
Golden Eagle (a more relaxed and gliding flying style, less wing beats than buzzard)
Osprey (wings more arched down, but soaring style seems more similar to buzzard)
Peregrine (soaring less in circles and with more direct lines, and faster - more occasional less regular wing beats)
Honey Buzzard (soar with level wings - but I never seen one so I can't say much)
Red Kite (a more buoyant style and seemingly effortlessly, less wing beats - of course their silhouette is quite distinctive)

Seen soaring less often:
Goshawk (using more powerful wing beats in-between the soaring circles)
Sparrowhawk (the typical fast flap-flap glide is the only thing I can think of, which is rather different - do sparrowhawks and goshawks soar often?)

Do these species ever soar? I have never seen them soaring:

Kestrel, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Owls?

Please feel free to correct me, and add your thoughts for each species. Thanks,
You forgot White-tailed Eagle, which can be seen soaring frequently (where it occurs). One of the reasons why it is so conspicuous.
Sparrowhawks seem to be soaring quite frequently in my experience, particularly considering the fact that their build doesn't seem to be optimised for the practice.
Kestrels and Hobbies soar too, although maybe less regularly than Peregrines.
Of course, habits of birds may vary according to the regional geography and weather patterns.
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
Yes, they do this.
Agree, they can get to some height when using any thermals, appearing as a dot, even through binoculars. Not neccessarily for migration but to preserve energy I would imagine. It's remarkable to watch them climb with hardly a flap then cover much ground in a shallow dive. The true wonders of flight and man's fascination.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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