Very blurry blown-up falcon fun

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Many thanks for Dave Craven for waking me up this afternoon (see comments on previous blog entry) – no doubt about it, by the time I got up to Crossens Outer I was way too complacent in my treatment of this “funny” falcon out amongst the Pinks.
Yes it was a very, very long way away, but as Dave rightly suggests, “calidus” Peregrine might have rang bells in my head, rather than me dismissing this bird as yet another weirdy hybrid.

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Anyway, here’s the very bad blow-ups of the bird I managed to digiscope this afternoon.
Apologies for the poor quality, these are the only images I managed, via a hand-held Lumix against my battered old Nikon ‘scope.
The head pattern isn’t that far off that of Arctic Peregrine or “calidus“, but the bird didn’t seem particularly big, and it’s underpants weren’t as pale as I would have expected.
Supercilium is obvious though.
However it certainly didn’t strike me as long-winged or long-tailed compared to normal Peregrines, but then it wasn’t more rakish or browner like a Lanner is in flight either.
Structure/size was like a male Peregrine.
Not far off, but not bang on either, although those long black moustaches are interesting.
In fact, my first “blow-up” shows a rustier set of underparts, closer to “tundrius“, the Yankee arctic Peregrine race.
It doesn’t seem to fit with a falconry hybrid, that’s for sure.
Who knows?
This bird is a valuable lesson in the importance of keeping your radar switched on…I won’t be dismissing falcons as hybrids on the strength of pale heads again, that’s for sure!
I’d love to know what other people think about this falcon (that’s what the Birdblog is for after all, if folk ain’t using the comments thingy, then I’m clearly not writing it right) and while the opportunity for me to nail it has passed, perhaps someone else may catch up with this bird at the marsh tomorrow and get a better view?
Good luck if you do…please let me know if you see it.
Many thanks to Dave Craven for getting me thinking, and of course to the source material of Martin Garner‘s “Challenge” series, and the great man’s amazing ability to never stop querying or questioning in the field.
I couldn’t say I had the privilege to know Martin well, but I did meet him a few times, and he was always encouraging whenever I had a daft query about races/sub-species – he’d be giggling now.
Lesson learnt guys.

Scaups and stuff.

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The two drake Scaup were sailing about, diving and preening on the Junction Pool at Marshside again this morning, with the Tufted Duck flock, while a chilly wind tried to stamp out any of that spring nonsense.
That said, a few Pied Wags were moving through, one or two Mipits called overhead, and a Chiffchaff moved quietly along the bank north of Nels in the afternoon.
38+ Avocets looked as miserable as only Avocets can when it gets cold in March and hunkered down on Marshside One.

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Little Grebes were yikkering away from the reeds by Nels, and for the botanists, Green Alkanet was blooming, joining Common Whitlow Grass (a favourite of Neill Hunt’s of course, hence the picture), Coltsfoot and various nasty Hawksbits in flower.

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Plenty of Golden Plover (1,000+ on Crossens Inner), Blackwits, a few Ruff and Curlew, but only a Merlin was prepared to put the effort in on the outer marsh in the strong wind.
I headed up to have a gander at Crossens Outer, where about 1,500 Pinkies had been pushed onto the cropped grass.
Although fairly distant I ‘scoped them (shamefully the first time I’ve spent any amount of time on the geese this winter), picking out six Barnacles.
As I did, a Lanner-type falcon came whizzing by, and crash landed on the turf then tried to regain its dignity on one of the tide stranded tree trunks.

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Infinitely cooler, a Raven dropped in, chased off the Lanner a short distance, then had a go at the carcass out there, before bouncing around amongst the geese for a few minutes – top bird!
A quick look at Weld Road on the way home revealed 13 flighty Twiteys and a Pied Wag.
Meanwhile the Siskin infestation continues at Dempsey Towers, although numbers seemed to have fallen back a bit today, which means my sunflower seeds may last a bit longer.

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