March 21st, 2012, 04:35 PM
Mystery Eagle in the Algarve
Out walking today spotted this eagle sat in the middle of a field near the Honey farm in Acoteias, Algarve. Typically, hadn't got my camera with me. It seemed pretty well settled, so ran a mile back home, collected the camera and drove back in the car, and to my amazement it was still there. Much more to my amazement as I got closer and closer for photos, it just sat there. When eventually it did fly, it wasn't so obliging, and flew directly away from me and quite low. When eventually it turned a little to give something of a view of its underwings it was already 200 yds away.
However, crucially, these photos showed that it had straps on both legs, so I guess it's probably an escapee from a hawk conservancy or maybe somewhere like an airport where it might be a working bird. That makes it a little less interesting and a bit disappointing, but also could make it more diffcult to identify, because instead of just thinking about Eurpoean birds, it may be necessary to think further afield, I don't know.
I've looked in my Collins, and cannot be at all sure. Not captured in any of the photos is that the tail in flight looks almost diamond shaped.
We carried on with our walk, and 20 mins later spotted the same bird in the middle of another field. This time it took off very quickly.
March 22nd, 2012, 10:50 PM
Really not sure, but I wonder if it might be juvenile Harris's Hawk?
March 23rd, 2012, 05:11 PM
Not sure either Dave. I don't know the Harris's Hawk well, although I've think I've seen them at The Hawk Conservancy in Andover. Pictures I've seen on the web for a juvenile show a largish yellow part at the back of the beak, which this bird doesn't have.
This was a large bird, probably the largest raptor I've ever seen other than black and Griffon vultures.
March 23rd, 2012, 06:24 PM
I'd suspect a juvenile Bald Eagle, but other Haliaeetus spp. (or hybrids!) are also possible.
March 23rd, 2012, 09:33 PM
I think it does have a yellow base to the bill, but this is inconspicuous, partly (but not entirely) because of the light. Not everything seems quite perfect for Harris's Hawk, at least so far as I know them (which isn't much), but they are quite variable and some captive birds do not closely resemble many of the wild-taken photos (possibly becuase they are a different subspecies).
Originally Posted by Kenwin5
Bald Eagle crossed my mind too and fits in a lot of ways. But is it ok for Bald Eagle to show such strongly rufous feathers among the scapulars and wing-coverts? I've seen loads of photos of them from North America and never noticed this before - perhaps I haven't looked hard enough?
Originally Posted by MichaelF
March 23rd, 2012, 10:44 PM
Just Googled "Juvenile Bald Eagle" and spent time looking at an amazing set of pictures. IMHO certainly looks close. That head!
March 24th, 2012, 08:28 AM
Last edited by MichaelF; March 24th, 2012 at 08:30 AM.
March 24th, 2012, 12:02 PM
I too thought Harris Hawk at first but soon eliminated that on the fact that there is no white rump which even immatures should show. Structure of the head which looks 'shaggy' and the depth of that bill also seem wrong but what about those rufous feathers that are emerging?
Last edited by andyadcock; March 24th, 2012 at 12:15 PM.
March 25th, 2012, 10:20 AM
Just seen this and my first impression is an imm. Bald Eagle (maybe 3rd yr?). There are quite a few in Portugal (ab)used by falconers. They are used by Benfica football club as their eagle mascot - paraded around the pitch before a game. There is a falconry centre in the Algarve. What is certainly the same bird was photographed at Lagoa dos Salgados on 24th March.
Last edited by Simon Wates; March 25th, 2012 at 10:23 AM.