Sunday, 21 October 2012

Where's the rares? (plus mystery Falcon)

Autumn in Norfolk? Check!
North-easterly winds to blow in rare migrants? Check!
Rain and drizzle to ground them? Check!
Rare birds? Errrr...
So, with such great weather to blow in some really good birds, why have I spent the day walking round looking at empty bushes and birdless skies?
The weather looked great for blowing in some birds. North-easterly winds, with heavy overnight rain, easing off a little by dawn. Normally, there'd be loads of birds along the coast with heavy visible-migration and lots of grounded migrants, but the birds just weren't there. A look at the weather map shows lots of cloud extending across the north sea and into Holland and Denmark, so perhaps those bird are grounded elsewhere on the continent and never got to set off across the North Sea. There were a few Godscrest, one Chiffchaff and quite a few Redwing and Song Thursh, but that's about it.

One bird that did intrigue me was a large falcon that I had at Waxham. It put everything up in the surrounding fields and flew past me, heading out towards the sea. I thought it was a Peregrine at first, but then thought it looked a bit dark and narrow-winged so I grabbed the camera and rattled off a bunch of photos. At the time, I did muse over the bird's appearance to Lanner, but I think it's 'just' a Peregrine. But it's very dark, especially on the underwing coverts and breast, giving it an appearance very similar to that of the North American form anatum. But then I think that an anatum should show a wider mustacial stripe and less white on the cheeks. Anyway, it's an interesting bird..

Post script: Dick Forsman has kindly commented as follows:
"I've never seen a "normal" Peregrine this dark myself, but certainly some brookei and some Peale's from N Pacific could look like this.  
With all the escaped falconer's birds flying around I wouldn't get too excited about it, and still, Peregrines are hugely variable anyway.
Whether an escape or not , it undeniably looks very exotic!"


MJP said...

Hi Graham,

My colleague showed me your post about this Peregrine. If you look at e.g. You may see similar birds - seen also in autumn. I suspect that some Peregrines may make it from N America, it is only that no one has proved it yet. I do sat tracking of raptors in Hungary, and we see things we have not thought before: e.g. it was only two days ago that one of our sat tracked Imperial Eagles crossed the Med Sea between Greece and Libya (510 km) in 10 hours. Would you have ever thought of that of a large, soaring bird of prey?

Congratulation to your blog. :)

All the best

Matyas Prommer

Russell said...

This post is very interesting to me even in Japan as I had a similiar experience here yesterday. I photographed a large, dark peregrine that I'm thinking is a "Peale's Falcon". I posted about it earlier today on Birdforum and will write about it on my blog later. Japanese peregrines are much, much paler and I think my bird yesterday was also more robust. A windy autumn week and a rainy day today. -I also thought of a Falconer's escapee? It's interesting timing with your post Anyhow! Cheers

MJP said...

Hi Russell
If you look up the Japanese bird ringing atlas (available on the internet), you will see that there is Peregrine recovery Japan - U.S. (maybe New Mexico). Unfortunately, I cannot read from where to where it flew.
At some point I was writing an article about a Merlin travelling a ship on the Atlantic and when I searched for literature, I was surprised to see that there are many data on falcons (mainly Peregrines) travelling large distance on ships across the oceans.
So, I think the name is telling and "nothing is impossible" for the Peregrines.
Of course, escapees never can be excluded (if you can't see the legs) as Peale's are much beloved falcons by falconers.