A leg-up

We went this week to Titchwell … well about a mile away actually, to Choosley Barns. We were looking for the reported Rough legged Buzzard. After a few false alarms a potential candidate was sat atop a tree silhouetted against the skyline facing away from us. It appeared to have a white rump/tail. A good indicator of a Rough legged. We moved the vehicle around a few roads to get a better view with the sun behind us. By the time we got into position the bird had hopped down the tree and shrouded itself among twigs and was completely obscured.

A shrill buzzard like whistle to attract the birds attention and it hopped up again to the top branch. Although distant it’s true identity became apparent. Although the bird was very white it had no dark belly and it had more brown on it than it should have had. In addition the tail was barred although it did have some white in it; insufficient however to give it Rough legged status. The picture below is Bob Cobbold’s digiscoped photograph he took as we watched the bird. Thank you Bob.

I feel we get an influx in winter of whiter continental birds. This is a purely speculative comment but when visiting France in winter they do seem to get a larger proportion of spectacularly white Common Buzzards.

Of course there may have been/still be a Rough legged Buzzard at Choosley. In our short time there this week we didn’t see one, but we did see an unusually pale Common Buzzard that could be a pitfall for the unwary.


Copywrite: Bob Cobbold

4 Responses to “A leg-up”

  1. Dec 17, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Great post, I’ve written on my own blog about a suspected RLB I saw in Northumberland, I’d never seen one before but I do see Common Buzzard in flight most days here and the distinctive jizz in flight was what made me look twice. Maybe seeing an ambiguous bird in flight can be a useful clincher? Commons are certainly highly variable!

    • Dec 17, 2016 at 10:25 am

      They sure are variable Andrew but it’s possible to distinguish Rough Legged on size alone … they are huge!

      • Dec 18, 2016 at 10:19 am

        That was an aspect of the jizz that immediately struck me, yet most guides etc just say ‘slightly’ larger. Maybe the difference is ‘slight’ numerically but because I watch Common Buzzards every day it was indeed unslight visually. Goes back to the old adage – if you want to find rare birds, watch common ones!

      • Dec 18, 2016 at 10:37 am

        Absolutely Andrew. A notebook is also a good idea. Something you don’t often see today’s birders using. I’ve been researching some old cetacean records from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Because some excellent notes were taken of sightings of Norfolk I’ve been able to correct identification some 40 odd years later.

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Dec 2016


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