Honey Buzzard???? - Nyslvlei

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11 years 9 months ago #794 by nkgray
nkgray replied the topic:
Doug,

I am now officially confused. Your comments on the wider wing of the Jackal Buzzard and the grey in the primaries of the juvenile JB make sense - although if this were a JB the colouration would suggest a near-adult and the grey might well have gone by this stage. I concede that perhaps the overall shape of the bird does not fit a JB.

However, on your other point of the angle between wing and tail - I'm afraid my SASOL images (presumably the earlier version than yours as my page numbers are out by 4) a greater fit to the SASOL JB (right of the attached pic) than to the Steppe Buzzard (left).



On balance I have to accept the Steppe Buzzard ID, but there ar estill a lot of inconsistencies.

Regards, Neil Gray

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  • Trevor Hardaker
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11 years 9 months ago #795 by Trevor Hardaker
Trevor Hardaker replied the topic:
Hi Neil,

Just to add my 2c worth...

Firstly, the Honey Buzzard. Yes, this is definitely a Honey Buzzard, but is has been incorrectly stated as been a juvenile or immature. It is, in fact, an adult female. Adult females start their moult in June or July on the breeding grounds, but then suspend it prior to migration. The majority of the moult is then completed on the wintering grounds from late January onwards and is normally completed by early March.

Based on the number of visible bars on the primaries, this would make it a female as males show less barring on the flight feathers. And, just to confirm why it is not a juvenile - juveniles do not show the yellow eyes of the adults, they have dark eyes.

As to the other buzzard, it is a Steppe Buzzard. Steppes are extremely variable in plumage and the colours and patterns shown on this bird are nothing unusual for Steppe. Perhaps the most obvious feature making it a Steppe as opposed to a juv Jackal is the broad and obvious black trailing edge to the underwings. Juv. Jackals will show a darker trailing edge, but it is generally narrower and more diffuse, often appearing greyish as opposed to black. This bird also lacks the secondary bulge that gives Jackals that obvious broad winged look. Juv Jackals also often show much richer colouring on the flanks than on the rest of the body.

Hope this makes some sense.

Regards
Trevor

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11 years 9 months ago #797 by
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Trevor,

Thanks. Its the input from the experienced birders like yourself that show that it is impossible to put all the relevant facts into the field guides, especially with such variable birds as the buzzard family.

I don't think I could put together all your facts from a combination of the three reference books I used.

Easy when you know how - will i ever get there?

Regards,

Neil

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  • gordon
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11 years 9 months ago #799 by gordon
gordon replied the topic:
From an interest point of view, how would a pale form adult Longlegged Buzzard (as opposed to the very pale form) differ with respect the underwing flight pattern from this Steppe?

What would be the "obvious" differences? (if there is such a thing?)

Is it the thicker Carpal Patch extending all the way to the leading edge?
Or would size be the factor?

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11 years 9 months ago #801 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Hi Gordon.

The underwing pattern of Long-legged Buzzard seems to be just as controvertial as the variability of Steppe Buzzard itself. One of our local field guides say that the dark trailing back edge to the wings is also diagnostic, but then some senior birders have told me no this is in fact not necissarily true.

I have had some birders saying that the dark carpal patches are diagnostic and then others say that in fact it is not. The only real concrete things I have heard that would possibly help with Long-legged Buzzard ID is the fact that, in genral, the tail should always be very light in colour (peach colour rather than rufous) and other than that the bigger wings which, according to some people I have chatted to on Birdforum.net, claim that only if you know long-legged buzzard well as those in some areas of Europe do, you get used to the different way the two species fly.
I will say the reading I have done seems to indicate that due to the difference in wing loading between the species, Steppe will be a more agile flyer and thus that is why probably Geoff said that the best tip is that Long-legged tends to soar like an eagle far more than Steppe does.

I must say that overall the longlegged buzzard issue is a really tough one and I have never managed to get the same answer from any two birders.

I will say though on the wing size issue, you have to give credit to Ian Sinclair for his photographic guide. You have also said that it is an awesome book, particularly when trying to judge giss. No matter how good a picture is drawn and how many attempts there are to draw it accurately to scale, it will never be as spot on for giss as a photograph.
I looked last night at my moth-eaten and tea-stained copy of his photgraphic guide and there deffinitely seems to be an obvious longer-winged look to the Long-legged Buzzard pic in his book.

To further complicate issues with regards the tail patterning on Long-legged Buzzard, the book I have says that a completely unbarred rufous - peach coloured tail is diagnostic on Long-legged Buzzard. It does however say at the same time that Steppe may have an almost unbarred rufous tail and in fact unless you get a closeup look in good light and at the right angle, some Steppes may appear to have an unbarred tail, suggesting Long-legged.

And for final confusion, the pic I posted of the raptor we saw at Suikerbosrand had a few suggested Long-legged Buzzard due to dark carpal patches (heck even I did) and Geoff immediatley told me that that does not help in seperating the two species.

One other thing I read on behaviour funnily enough is the fact that Long-legged Buzzards are known to sometimes hover which is not mentioned for Steppe and I have never seen a Steppe Buzzard hover myself so that might be something to look out for.

I think the general problem is that some of the really tough species to seperate have the issue that there are so many things to consider that if you were to add the facts in Roberts VII, Raptors of the World, Newman's and Ian Sinclair's Photographic guide one would probably have to dedicate 10 pages of a field guide just too the Steppe / Long-legged / Jackal / Augur buzzard group. I thnk that some attempts have been made ti simplify the ID of these species, but I think it is to complex an issue for a field guide to actually be able to treat with the detail it requires. This is borne out by the fact that Neil commented that his books do not have the range of drawings and information to cover all variations. That is probably why people liek Trevor, Geoff, Ian etc etc etc can ID these birds due to the wealth of field experience that the rest of us do not have.
In about 50 years I should be able to tell my Sparrow from my Stork.

Just adding more confusion too the mix!
Doug.

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11 years 9 months ago #802 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Neil.

I don't know if it is conclusive at all, but I have also noticed something.

If you count the number of primaries that clearly stick out as "fingers" on the wing tip, all Steppe pics show 5 and all Jackal Pics show 6. I don't know if this is even a charachteristic, but if that consitency in all of the pics is accurate, then that would make this bird of yours a Steppe.

That difference may be an evolutionary adaptation to requirements of flight with the broader Jackal Buzzard wings.

More nonsense from the lunatic fringe!
Doug

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11 years 9 months ago #805 by gordon
gordon replied the topic:
Doug,

Hence even more the need to get those Wikipaedia pages up and get people to start contributing. Hopefully the pages on the buzzards will eventually include all the variations (with photo's) and have highly detailed descriptions to help people ID these birds!

I suppose it goes to show, when ID'ing a bird, you have to ask yourself, how happy am I with my ID...

Cheers
Gordon

PS Cape Vulture... :-)

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11 years 9 months ago #807 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
I looked at the photo of myself in my ID last night and got quite a fright!

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11 years 9 months ago #809 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Seriously though, Buzzard comming up soon in the wikipaedia.....
You see I have added the raptor sections...
Hopefully though, some experts can add quality content too the articles.

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11 years 9 months ago #811 by gordon
gordon replied the topic:
I just remembered the photo and got a fright...

I am sure experts and non-experts alike will start to see the usefulness of the Wiki very soon, and will gladly contribute!

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