Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Soil Hill Mystery Falcon

Mystery Falcon Soil Hill a brief summary. I am sticking my neck out here, but I think the Soil Hill falcon is probably a Lanner Falcon of unknown origin. Its clearly a big bird with long wings and medium length tail. There are 5 races of Lanner across south east Europe and Africa and Ive only ever seen one, in Lesbos in 2001 and if I remember that caused some confusion at the time. This species is highly variable but certain features point to lanner, A if Im not mistaken this bird has blue legs and feet which points to a juvenile large falcon, either Lanner, Saker or Gyr, juvenile Peregrines have yellow feet so this should rule it out. B this bird has a very pale ventral area, a feature shown by Lanner Falcon (confer Colins field guide, and Dick Forsman) C Greater underwing coverts are heavily spotted, another feature shown by Lanner and D note dark under wing coverts which form an indistinct line across the under wing between the coverts and flight feathers. There’s also a statement in Forsman noting translucent tail, which this bird also shows. This bird is however not a typical looking Lanner but I think the combination of these features points to this species. It’s a pity there’s no upper wing shots. If I am wrong then hopefully I will learn from my mistake. Would like to hear what others think, ps sorry for the rubbish arrows on the photo.

6 comments:

Dave Brotherton Photography said...

Great article and argument enjoyed reading it.

AndyC said...

The tail looks pretty full and in very good condition when you enlarge the pic , it looks tatty but its the light shining through. It certainly looks like a Lanner in the flight shots.Im sure juv Sakers can show a white vent etc.... Send it to Dick......

heavy birder said...

Looked at Saker Andy, but it shows darker secondaries on juvenile contrasting with paler primaries. This bird lacks that feature. Some Sakers however can have paler ventral areas but they are usually much darker ????

Dave Sutcliffe said...

Well done Nick for putting that together. I've never seen one so it's hard to comment. Well done to Dave B for getting such decent photo's. No wonder I was stumped when you showed me the shots on your camera Dave !!!!
It might turn up again - you never know.

Dave Brotherton Photography said...

I'm still stumped Dave lol, I've been reading about them and how hey hunt in pairs and as there were two of them it could be right.

Anthony Robertshaw said...

Thank you Nick for your detailed explanation and also thank for the detailed pictures. It certainly is a mystery falcon, hopefully it will put in another appearance.