The Honey Buzzard influx is probably long forgotton about by now after the ups and downs of the autumn, but the fun bit is still to come - assessing the descriptions! I wonder what approach local rarities committees will take on the Honey Buzzard influx? It was clear that at least in Durham, my (sometimes) home county that an unusually large passage of Common Buzzards was also taking place simultaneously with the Honey Buzzard passage. Can't remember exact figure, but one coastal site logged something like 7 Common Buzzards in a day, whereas normally there are none.
Despite it normally being a very rare bird in Durham, I reckon there were something like 50 Honey Buzzards reported in Durham in mid/late Sept, and although we will get nowhere near as many descriptions, there will still be many descriptions to assess. So what do people reckon, assess each description on it's own merit, devise minimum acceptance levels before even looking at descriptions or 'to pot with it, we know there were Honey Buzzards moving, so lets save ourselves the hassle and only bin the ones which were Sparrowhawks'?
I'm sure all would agree there needs to be some sort of standardised approach. The plumage of Honey Buzzards is obviously very variable, and given the brevity of many of the birds, noting exact plumage features was subjective. I've been watching Common Buzzards closely ever since late Sept, and I personally would rate the flat wings of soaring Honey Buzzards very highly. This was perhaps the only feature which was visible at most distances and in most lights, and was far less open to subjectivity. I personally think descriptive notes on the head-on posture (when soaring) is essential for acceptance.