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Thread: Buzzard Sp. (Steppe?)

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Jun 2011

    Default Buzzard Sp. (Steppe?)

    Can anyone help me with this Buzzard Sp? It is at Sudbourne in Suffolk at the moment.

    The attached photos have been taken by Jon Gibbs.

    There is a huge variation in Buzzards and if this bird had only showed one or two features I would have left well alone! However it does show many features that are associated with Steppe Buzzard [I]vulpinus[[I] and when taken as a whole appears to be closer to Steppe Buzzard than Common Buzzard. These features are as follows:

    From above a distinctly reddish tail which shows a dark terminal bar (the reddish tones are more noticeable when seen against a dark background like trees rather than against a pale sky). Pale grey basis to outer primaries.

    From below a distinctly rufous chest, belly and underwing coverts, pale median bar, outer primaries white with no barring, inner primaries and secondaries with fine barring, trailing edge to wing shows a broad black band. Tail appears pale grey with very fine barring.

    Structure is subtly but noticeably different to Common Buzzard in that it appears more aquiline, with proportionately longer, narrower wings with the hand being particularly narrow. It seems more agile and lighter in flight with slightly quicker wing beats.

    Moult is also of interest in that the Common Buzzards in the area are in active primary moult and some are also moulting their tail feathers. The bird in question has not moulted any of these feathers. Does Steppe Buzzard start moulting at a later date?

    I realise that many individuals are not identifiable to form in the field, but would still like to have any comment or feedback on what is a very interesting bird.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Steppe Buzzard?

    I saw this bird on saturday 25 June. Was surprised the bird was similar to the steppe buzzard pictures in the Collins second edition. That does not mean it was one....

    I put the news out to encourage others to go and see it. Bird seems loyal to the area. Contrasted with a dark phase nominate common buzzard there.

    Hoepfully those with more experience of raptor ID and scientific knowledge will comment on this thread.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    Jun 2011

    Default More pictures

    There are 2 more photographs by Will Brame posted on the Suffolk Birding with BIN website today that are well worth a look.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Odonate's Avatar
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    May 2008


    Living in Buzzard-rich Devon, I am lucky enough to see large parts of the Buzzard plumage spectrum and none of the characteristics cited is that rare on their own. We probably have to accept that they may occasionally all occur on a single bird. Down here, almost no two Buzzards are alike and in the last month I have seen birds which, at first glance, looked like Osprey and Short-toed Eagle.
    I am also not really sure that extralimital vulpinus are identifiable with any certainty and I wonder whether they are just an increased geographical probability of a certain colour morph?

  5. #5
    Senior Member mafting's Avatar
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    Mar 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Cartwright View Post
    Moult is also of interest in that the Common Buzzards in the area are in active primary moult and some are also moulting their tail feathers. The bird in question has not moulted any of these feathers.
    I can clearly see wing moult in this bird. It has 4 old outer primaries, is regrowing a 5th (about 4/5 grown), and the rest are new. This is clearly apparent in several of the photos (especially the 1st).

    There are a few red-tailed Common Buzzards in next-door Cambs. One has been touted as something exotic before, but it was just a Common Buzzard (was a 'known' bird).

    I think I agree with Odonate, in that the more of them you see on a daily basis in the buzzard-sodden regions, then the less you're surprised by anything strange. I saw one today, in heavy moult, sporting a white tail with clear dark terminal band. At distance, on a misty Feb morning, that would be an 'interesting' bird.
    Last edited by mafting; June 30th, 2011 at 11:03 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by mafting View Post
    buzzard-sodden regions,

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