The Montagu's harrier can be confused with several species that exist within the same range. Since I was spending part of last week in Suffolk that presented an opportunity to go after my second British Pallid Harrier at a site on the journey to and from there. A very rare visitor to the UK from south-east Europe, however records here and elsewhere in northern Europe are increasing where there have been a number of reports of mixed pairings with Hen Harrier (and Montagu's Harrier). Flintshire's rare Pallid Harrier joins the raptor party. Pallid Harrier, Circus macrourus Names English: Pallid Harrier Scientific: Circus macrourus German: Steppenweihe Spanish: Aguilucho Papialbo French: Busard pâle Taxonomy and Subspecies Mixed pairs with the Montagu's Harrier are known [Mebs and Schmidt 2006, GRIN 2010]. So at 8:30 yesterday morning I arrived at a car park by a sports centre (TL 34769 40459) … As Egmere is just a stones throw away from the Hen Harrier roost at Warham Greens I immediately thought if there was a Pallid Harrier in the area it would surely be roosting there in …
In 1931 Jimmy shot what was believed in flight to be the first Pallid Harrier ever seen in Britain.In hand Jimmy & Fieldy confirmed the identification, the bird skin was sent to Edinburgh.In Edinburgh the identification was discredited as not a Pallid Harrier but that of a Montagu’s or Common Hen Harrier. The female hovers above the nest site (François Mougeot). The pallid harrier breeds in Ukraine and Russia and spends most of the winter in Africa or India, and is a rare visitor to Western Europe.

I personally have only seen Pallid Harrier once before, last autumn in La Janda in Cadiz province, and it was a second year male so there was no debate about it. Just short of the A505 roundabout I saw a flying harrier, whose size, flight action and wing markings (grey body and wings, except for the black wing tips) were entirely consistent with those of a male hen harrier. In winter they move to lowland farmland, heathland, coastal marshes, fenland and … As well as the Pallid Harrier there was a supporting cast of 3 Short-eared Owls (all in the air together), Hen Harrier, at least 3 different Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Peregrine and Kestrel as well as at least 2 Great-white Egrets (seen together). We had looked for this bird unsuccessfully whilst on the way to Norwick, but returned later in the day with better luck As we approached Northdale the bird flew up from a small patch of roadside trees & perched on a fence post giving good views.

The most similar are the hen harrier and the pallid harrier. This one however would be a 2cy bird, possibly easy to confuse with Montagu’s or even Hen (although at this time of year, there shouldn’t be any Montagu’s about). A great afternoons birding with great company, a good craic, some good discussion and some good birds. No subspecies [GRIN 2010]. I personally have only seen Pallid Harrier once before, last autumn in La Janda in Cadiz province, and it was a second year male so there was no debate about it. Pallid Harrier in Whitendale near Dunsop Bridge I haven't been out birding for a week or so now as I'm still coming to terms with that fact that my very expensive big Nikon 500mm lens is broken in two and awaiting collection by the insurers for assessment and further action. A juvenile Pallid Harrier had been present in the Northdale area on Unst since 13th September. This one however would be a 2cy bird, possibly easy to confuse with Montagu’s or even Hen (although at this time of year, there shouldn’t be any Montagu’s about). The conservation status for this species is "not assessed' in the UK because it only occurs as a rare migrant, and is not globally threatened. Along with the star attraction other species recorded in the area while waiting for or watching the Pallid Harrier include Grey Partridge, Merlin, Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl.

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