Honey Buzzard???? - Nyslvlei

  • nkgray
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11 years 9 months ago #820 by nkgray
nkgray replied the topic:
Boy, did I open a can of worms with this one. The one I was hoping was a Honey Buzzard as a lifer for myself was matter-of-factly glossed over as a Honey Buzzard. Great, nice tick.

Gordon, you said "I suppose it goes to show, when ID'ing a bird, you have to ask yourself, how happy am I with my ID... ". Well there I was convinced my other pic was a Jackal Buzzard because I wasn't that interested one way or the other - and look what happened! Just goes to show you can't take anything for granted.

Thanks to all the Steppe Buzzard contributors,

Regards,

Neil Gray

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11 years 9 months ago #822 by gordon
gordon replied the topic:
Hi Neil,

I just have to wonder how often the "experts" incorrectly ID these raptors?

If it is true that it is almost impossible to distinguish say Long-Legged from Steppe, then how can anyone be so arrogant as to ID any of them.

Worse still is that the experts cannot agree on diagnostic features. Speak to one person and it will definitely be the tail that you look at, another will tell you that the tail cannot be used, you have to look for a feature on the head, yet another will argue that he/she has seen that feature on other buzzards, etc etc etc....

The plumages are so incredibly variable on the buzzards, maybe there is only one species and we have all been fooled all along...

I think that the viewer should make up his or her mind and mark it down if they are happy with their ID, based on the knowledge that they posses.
Of course being able to take a picture helps and can be sent to the experts for their opinion. Just remember though that their opinion is only that, an opinion, they could still be wrong!

Having said the above about the experts I should say this in their defence, they all have one thing in common that gives them a huge advantage over the rest of us and that is time spent in the field!
Something else that a select few of them have is an extensive library. For us plebs that are relying on our incomplete SA field guides, I am afraid we are dead in the water. Even our new Roberts VII is nowhere near complete enough to give us the tools we need to acurately ID all the birds we see.

Ya gotta love birding!

Cheers
Gordon

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11 years 9 months ago #823 by
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Gordon said "You've gotta love birding!"
I would just like to add "No, really... you've got to!"

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  • Trevor Hardaker
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11 years 9 months ago #824 by Trevor Hardaker
Trevor Hardaker replied the topic:
Me again!

I think one should be very careful when approaching raptor identification (just like all other groups). My advice would be to get to know the common birds well first. Get to grips with the likes of Steppe vs juv. Jackal Buzzard first. Spend as much time as you can watching these species and get them entrenched into your brain. Why worry about Long-legged Buzzard identification? It is an extreme vagrant with only a handful of accepted sightings! There is a very small chance of finding it locally. I strongly believe that many of the recent claims of LLB are misidentifications. There are lots of people who give the impression of being experts or even claim to be experts, but who would not be able to separate Steppe from juv. Jackals, let alone LLB!

Anyway, enough ranting...

Some issues on LLB.

- It has been correctly stated that the dark carpal patches are not diagnostic. This is neither here nor there. All that one needs to remember is the LLB always has large dark carpal patches, whereas other species e.g. Steppe may or may not have dark carpal patches. Also, on LLB, this dark carpal patch is quite often visible on the upperwing as well.

- The colour of the tail is really a subjective issue as people perceive colours differently. Whether it is rufous or peach is a minor issue as differing light angles would give you different shades on the tail. What is important to remember although is that LLB generally has a darker lower belly and vent which accentuates the paleness of the tail whereas Steppe's body colour is fairly uniform.

- On LLB, the upperwing coverts are generally paler than the primaries and secondaries whereas in Steppe, they are concolourous.

- On the upperwing, LLB normally show pale bases to the outer primaries giving the impression of a white flash on the upperwing adjacent to the carpal patch.

- If you get to know Steppes well enough, when you eventually see a LLB, you will realise that they are obviously longer-winged and definitely more aquiline in flight. The migratory race (which is what we would get here) is also noticeably bigger than Steppe.

These birds are certainly readily identifiable, but only with lots of relevant experience of the potential confusion species.

For what it is worth...
Trevor

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11 years 9 months ago #826 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Hi Trevor.

Thanks for those tips. It is nice when someone with experience and knowledge give such input. I must say you are one of the few people that have agreed with writing off some of the more "traditional" LLB tips as not being reliable. It is also the first time I have actually heard the details you quote, I think further adding to the fact 99% of people just don't have the experience and knowledge base of top birders. I spent about a month on birdforum.net chatting to many people and every one went on about the tail colour and the dark carpal patches and that was all anyone said. I suppose it just goes to show how much knowledge there is on the subject of Buzzards alone that it is impossible to get to grips with all of it in most people life times. What I would love to do with all the info that slowly trickles through is make an article "Buzzard for dummies" that seperates fact from fiction and concentrates solely on the important charachteristics.

Regards.
Doug

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11 years 9 months ago #827 by gordon
gordon replied the topic:
Trevor, I agree with Doug, you are one of the few that is willing to share information, thank you!!!

I was trying to read the one or two books I have on raptors during this debate and the one thing that I did notice on LLB is the very bulky appearance when perched. Steppe, Forest and Jackal are a lot more slender by comparison. Flight patterns are a bit more difficult (to me).

Most of the time the average Steppe is easy to ID, it's only when one comes across a non-average colour variation that you are forced to start asking questions. I suppose I for one still need to learn to ask the correct questions to get to the answers I am looking for.

Doug, what was that book going to be called, Buzzards for Dummies or Dummies for Buzzards?

If you called it The Lengthy, Time Consuming and Confusing Buzzard ID Guide for Complete Ignoramus's, I will understand and purchase a copy... :-)

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11 years 9 months ago #829 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
It is called "Is that a buzzard on your head or are you pleased to see me?"

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