Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pallid Harrier and Pectoral Sandpiper

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus
The Pallid Harrier is a special species of bird for Islanders and Fair Isle history buffs.

In 1931 Fair Islander Jimmy (Midway) Stout shot what was believed in flight by his father Fieldy Stout to be the first Pallid Harrier ever seen in Britain. After 3 days of chasing the bird around the island Jimmy was able to shoot the bird as it flew over head. In hand Jimmy & Fieldy confirmed the identification, the bird was skin then sent to Edinburgh. In Edinburgh the identification was discredited as not a Pallid Harrier but that of a Montagu’s or Common Hen Harrier. Fieldy was furious and wrote a letter insisting the bird be sent on to London for further review. Many weeks later they received confirmation of what they already knew. The bird was an immature male Pallid Harrier, an understandably tricky identification at the time. The rarer the bird the more money the Islanders would get for the skin, so the skill of bird identification was a supplemental form of income, not just a hobby, it was taken very seriously. The two other Fair Isle visual records from these two Fair Isle birders in 1942 &1949 were both subsequently rejected because the birds were never seen by anyone of  suitable knowledge and they also were never shot!  This was due to the new emphasis on birdwatching rather than shooting. Ironically this new emphasis was given to them by the academics that would later rejected their records .
More history on Jimmy and his birds:
Pallid Harrier under-wing

Plenty of Willow Warblers around the Isle.

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris Melanotos

Pectoral Sandpiper in the warm glow of evening light.

Pectoral Sandpipers are the most common North American wader species
 to occasionally visit the British Isles.

Buff-Breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficullis
another slightly rarer North American wader of note.

Gannet - with my favourite 3rd year spotty plumage.

Sparrowhawk hunting in the Auld Haa Garden...
Flew away with a Garden Warbler.

White-tailed Garden Warbler
Looks to be regrowing it's tail feathers which look to be lucistic?

I'm going to break these chains and fly away...

1 comment:

  1. can you ID this bird for me?

    Its not a reed (Lack of rusty tones) but I am thinking Savis?