06/09/22 Another Wryneck + Hen Harrier

A blustery morning with 28 mph SSW gusts – abit too strong for the bushes but a steady stream of Gulls passing the cliffs although most too high for proper inspection, at least 3 Yellow Legged Gulls were counted. Very little passerine migration was noted until I got just west of the memorial at Reach road where I flushed a Wryneck from the ground, near the fence line. It flew into isolated cover and showed briefly before moving deeper within. Perhaps a different bird to the 2 that are being seen around Foxhill down? and perhaps different still to a bird reported by photographers near the radar station first thing? who knows.

I was up that way looking for a ring tailed Harrier I’d seen briefly over the farm and eventually saw again. It appeared to show quite a broad wing but a seemingly pointed ‘hand’ in flight. Inspection of the photos revealed 4 long primaries at the wing tip, and my brain leapfrogged into older female Pallid harrier plumages despite overall tonal/structural/flight impression not too differing from more familiar Hen Harrier.

After some back and forth with LP, DS and JAB and closer inspection of the images it seems clear that its an older (2cy+) female Hen Harrier, in active wing moult and therefore an outer primary down on each wing, In Fact you can see p8 growing – giving the ‘slim handed’ impression, an artefact not visible in the field.

Author: Jamie Partridge

Birding South East Kent: Langdon Hole to South Foreland

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