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Mystery Raptor, Thursley Common, 12 July 2014 (1 Viewer)

miketaylor

Well-known member
Hoping someone can help identify this large raptor seen on Sat 12th July 2014 at 17:40 over the heathland at Thursley Common, Surrey, UK.

It was exceptionally pale and plain below, with longer wings and tail than I would have expected for a Common Buzzard. It often hovered, twisting its tail for stability, and sometimes dangling its legs. It seems to glide on relatively horizontal, rather than slightly upturned, wings. I'm very familiar with Common Buzzard, and have seen many pale birds in the past, and to me the bird just didn't look like a Common Buzzard because of the long wings and tail.

Any ideas?

Cheers,
Mike
 

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John Cantelo

Well-known member
A large raptor, pale below, longer winged than Buzzard that likes hovering and twisting its tail hunting over heathland ... sounds familiar ;)
 

Barry Hunt

Well-known member
Had a little play in Lightroom with the image, seems to have very stumpy blackish legs to my eye on my enhanced photo.. Could it be...
 
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lou salomon

the birdonist
photo and what mike wrote about its behaviour - all fits for short-toed eagle. the combination of very pale underparts + a barred tail + hovering excludes any other european raptor (which is not a common buzzard ;)).
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Well, STE was my first thought, but it was late, I was tired and just off to bed - not a good time to make such a call. Come the morning and Barry's play in lightroom and that's what it looks like to me!
 

miketaylor

Well-known member
That's all very interesting!

I thought of STE when I was watching the bird, but was well aware that it would be a very wild claim, and wanted to rule out a very pale Common Buzzard, which is why I posted this thread... and deliberately didn't mention my "hunch".

I haven't been to see the STE in Ashdown Forest / New Forest, but I've seen them abroad, most recently in Spain at Easter.

Mike
 

TringBirder

Well-known member
That's all very interesting!

I thought of STE when I was watching the bird, but was well aware that it would be a very wild claim, and wanted to rule out a very pale Common Buzzard, which is why I posted this thread... and deliberately didn't mention my "hunch".

I haven't been to see the STE in Ashdown Forest / New Forest, but I've seen them abroad, most recently in Spain at Easter.

Mike

Mike,

What you have is a photo of a(the) Short-toed Eagle. The tail pattern with those 3 or 4 evenly-spaced, well-separated, bold dark bars eliminates other European raptors.

Cheers

Roy
 

lewis20126

Well-known member
Mike,

What you have is a photo of a(the) Short-toed Eagle. The tail pattern with those 3 or 4 evenly-spaced, well-separated, bold dark bars eliminates other European raptors.

Cheers

Roy

Crikey

Top stuff - there is no doubt that this is THE Short-toed Eagle. I'm not sure why I can't see the shorter outer tail feathers in this shot (now fully regrown?) but the slightly "curled in" primaries on the right wing are distinctive. All of the plumage including crown pattern match as well.

cheers, alan
 

lewis20126

Well-known member
BTW interesting to note that the STE was claimed at Hatchett Pond, NF on Saturday late am - early pm. I called in on my way past late morning but was shown the regular White Buzzard which has caused fun over recent weeks.

Four counties and counting - where next?

cheers, alan
 

miketaylor

Well-known member
Rather annoyingly I was there at the time! Only problem was I was looking down for lizards and dragonflies. :-C

Cheers,

BB

That's what we had been doing, until we then set off for a longer walk round the heath! So you may well have seen us!

Here are the other two reasonable quality photos that I took.

Mike
 

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bedfontbirder

Well-known member
That's what we had been doing, until we then set off for a longer walk round the heath! So you may well have seen us!

Here are the other two reasonable quality photos that I took.

Mike

Was it to the A3 side of Shrike Hill on the drier heathland? We were mostly on the boardwalks and skirted round the edge of Shrike Hill before heading back to the Moat car park.

Cheers,

Adam
 

miketaylor

Well-known member
Was it to the A3 side of Shrike Hill on the drier heathland? We were mostly on the boardwalks and skirted round the edge of Shrike Hill before heading back to the Moat car park.

Cheers,

Adam

No - it was at grid ref SU908418. We walked straight out on the boardwalk from the Moat, and followed it all the way to the end (rather than taking the right turn towards Shrike Hill), turning left by Pudmore Pond. When we reached the main track we then headed along the bridleway to the SE, and we had only gone a few yards when we saw the bird. It was in an area of young heather with the odd small birch and gorse bush - and while the bird was almost overhead a Dartford Warbler started scolding vigorously. The bird flew in from the east, and spent about 5 mins hovering in the area near us before slowly flying west (or slightly north of west).

Cheers,
Mike
 
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