17 April 2013

Second Calendar Year Male Pallid Harrier – Dhahran Hills

Whilst out birding the ‘patch’ I met Phil in his car whilst I was in my car, and he waved to me and put me onto a Pallid Harrier sitting on the ground. Unfortunately the bird flew off before we could get into a position to photograph it but luckily it landed a short distance off. Whilst taking to the air it became apparent the bird had killed some prey, possibly a lizard? and took this with it. Whilst trying to relocate the bird I again saw it in flight flying back towards the edge of the spray field where we had originally seen it so decided to give it one last go to try to get some photographs as the bird had prey and I thought it may stay if I was lucky. I managed to find the bird on the ground eating it’s prey and got in a position with the sun behind me and grabbed a few shots before a dog walker disturbed it and it flew off, landing again but this time I left it to continue eating. The bird is a second calendar year male, told by the yellow eye (dark in juveniles and females) and the pale whitish underparts which are more often rufous washed at least in similar aged females. A single adult type grey covert is also present on this bird indicating a male bird.

Pallid Harriers are not common in Dhahran but they are regular in small numbers on migration with the spring period the best time to see them. Females / immature males tend to outnumber adult males by about two to one. This is the first time I have managed to photograph a bird on the ground so returned home form my evenings birding very happy.