|Pallas's Lane - just a Chiffer here :-(|
|The Hume's Garden - but no Hume's Warbler sadly!|
I suggested then we head back to Ballycotton and see if we could relocate the Barred Warbler Harry had found the previous day. I hadn't really got any decent shots and felt the bird could still be there. As we reached Shanagarry Ger Walsh called to say the juvenile Pallid Harrier seen the previous week was again on view. With some good light still remaining we decided to head for that instead and hopefully I could get some decent shots.
Arriving there we were met by Ger Walsh and Paul Moore and joined soon after by John Meade. Ger and Paul had had the Pallid about 30 minutes beforehand and sure enough after about 10 minutes wait it showed up again quartering the fields nearby. I managed a couple of flight shots before the bird disappeared over distant fields chased by some grey crows. On checking the shots I could see one of its tail feathers was missing, I didn't think anything of this assuming the bird had lost that feather in the previous week since I had last seen it or perhaps in the misty conditions a week ago, that missing feather just wasn't apparent.
|Photo 1. Juv. Pallid Harrier (with tail feather missing)|
Just then a Merlin scattered the large flock of Starlings from the overhead power lines and as they took flight it was Ger who picked out a single juvenile Rosy Starling. The flock settled back on the wires but sadly once again the light was the wrong side of me.
As we waited for further views of the Pallid Harrier, a smart 2nd cy male Hen Harrier came in with at least one ringtail. Then the Pallid was picked up again, this time over a distant field. I watched it as it flew around for a short while before it alighted in the middle of the stubble. At this point I can remember hearing Ger and Harry describing how the Pallid was in the air and moving along the hedgerow on the edge of the stubble field. I started to get a little confused then, through my bins I could indeed see a Pallid Harrier in the air but when I switched back to my camera I could see the Pallid Harrier remaining on the deck in the stubble field.
|Photo 2. Pallid Harrier - stubble field.|
The pale coverts on the folded wing were very obvious and even visible with the naked eye in the fading light. I said that I thought the Pallid was still on the deck and that the pale wing coverts were clearly visible. Paul quickly said that he too had the Pallid on the deck and then I think it was Paul who exclaimed something along the lines of.....'there's two effing birds!' And that was it, all five of us at this point had been looking at not one but two juvenile Pallid Harriers in the same location. Until last April the species hadn't even been recorded in Ireland. What were the chances of this happening and where had this second bird come from (for that matter where had the first bird come from?). Anyway, we all watched in awe as both Pallid Harriers quartered the same field. One of the birds clearly differentiated from the other by its missing outer tail feather.
|Photo 3. Juv. Pallid Harrier - the second bird. No missing tail feathers!|
|Photo 4. Juv Pallid Harrier - same bird as photo 3.|
|Photo 5. juv. Pallid Harrier - missing tail feather|
|Photo 6. Obvious missing tail feather.|
So for a day that at one point seemed to signal a depressing end to the autumn it finished with an RB Fly, a Rosy Starling and 2 fantastic Pallid Harriers!