Posts Tagged ‘Rough legged Buzzard


Roughing it

The sun was out the wind was down. A quick late afternoon visit to Wells was on the cards for the Rough legged Buzzard that had been seen there quartering the fields.

Stood looking North overlooking the eastern pines a Swallow flew through; an amusing distraction. I can’t think what it was feeding on as there were few flies. It was also good to see a ploughed field heaving with Lawing, Golden Plover and a few Snipe.  Pied Wagtails were gathering to roost seemingly ignoring the hanging Marsh Harriers that were steadily working the field borders. Out from grass tussocks flapped a buteo obviously of some size. The white uppertil and the solid black belly were dead giveaways as to it’s ID. It never did come close but it had a regular hunting circuit. It eventually went back to its favoured bush, presumably to roost.

Always attractive these visitors from the Arctic. Such powerful birds. We always seem to get a splattering each Winter.




As we walked down the dunes in East Norfolk the other week a large raptor was hovering in front of us. Although Common Buzzards will frequently hover in a headwind the only buzzard to habitually hover kestrel style is a Rough legged Buzzards. A quick check with the bins and sure enough it was a Rough leg showing a nice black belly and a white proximal area on the tail. This winter visitor is a big bird but still warranted some mobbing by a Marsh Harrier as well as one of the local Crows.



Some excellent bird tours in February. Around 6 trips into the Brecks and almost as many into the Broads. The tour on the day of storm Doris was a challenge to say the least, but we still managed a few things of interest. Here’s a compendium of photos of just a few birds we came across during the month.

bewicks-swan crane glaucous-gull goshawk great-grey-shrike hawfinch iceland-gull lesser-spotted-woodpecker mediterranean-gullrough-legged-buzzardsiskinsnow-buntingwaxwingwoodlark



Rough sighting

Rough legged Buzzards have so far settled in the west of the county with no regulars that I know of in the east. This one was flying around Choosley Barns when we saw it with a Common Buzzard.

Rough legged Buzzard


Another Wild Goose Chase

The other week news of a Lesser Snow Goose in North Norfolk had us searching the flocks of Pinkfeet for the pale American. Geese kept tumbling out of the air in small flocks from tens to hundreds; each individual being scrutinised carefully as they landed. We thought the field where they were gathering would burst at the seams … and still they kept on coming. Throughout the day we estimated we’d seen around 10,000 geese. This has to be one of the most impressive wildlife spectaculars within the UK.

A Buzzard flew over that gave more than one of us the impression of a Rough legged. Not this time unfortunately. There was a split second, as we crept along a hedgerow to see the flock in the corner of the field, when I thought I’d found the Snow Goose. A pale goose took to the air among the mayhem of birds. It was in fact a leucistic Pinkfoot. Where had that been hiding?

We never did find the Snow Goose. I’m sure however it’ll be around somewhere.

2014 12 05 Buzzard Great Bircham Norfolk_Z5A4361

Pale tailed Buzzards can catch you out!

2014 12 05 Pinkfooted Goose Great Bircham Norfolk_Z5A4355

As can pale Pinkfeet – if only for a second.


A stoop made me stop

Driving and looking out the side window is never recommended. When something caught my eye the other day I pulled over so I could take a good look. I could have carried on but I’ve done that before only to have that nagging feeling 15 minutes later that I’ve thrown something away. Hate regrets!

I’d seen a kestrel stooping; taking a deep dive, mobbing, not once … but twice. As I watched the mobbing continued. It had obviously taken a dislike to something. An even closer look revealed a large raptor sat on a post. The pale head, black belly and white in the tail all pointed to Rough legged Buzzard. I hung around for a couple of hours before getting any sort of photo in what has to be said were atrocious conditions of poor light and drizzle.

Rough legged Buzzard


A tad rough

A small influx of Rough legged Buzzards into the county in the last few weeks have meant birds gravitated to a few usual hotspots; places where they’ve been found in the past. Many of the birds we’ve seen loitering around on the ground; even running after rodents on a couple of occasions. When they get into the air however … they really are in their element.

Rough legged Buzzard_Z5A9915



To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

I guess Tennyson wasn’t talking about Geese or Rough legged Buzzards when he wrote his famous lines but it felt appropriate earlier in the week.

Neither the Taiga Bean Geese in the Yare Valley or the Rough legged Buzzards in the Waveney were playing ball … at first.

The geese were sitting low among folds of ground and dykes. Gradually they grazed their way closer and I was able to take a photograph or two. On the still cold morning the shutter sounded off like the report of a shotgun and they didn’t like it. I regretted not muffling the camera. Unexpectedly … even at over 500m … the geese were edgy, took flight and settled at what they deemed to be a more respectable distance. Maybe it wasn’t me but the distant gunfire that spooked them.

The rough legged Buzzard on the other hand after playing hide and seek preferred to ‘make like a post’ . Only when it ruffled feathers did it show the white in the tail revealing its true identity.

We agreed both were worth the wait. See my guests take on the day in todays issue of the ‘The Times’

Click to enlarge

Taiga Bean Geese



As I walked from the front door into the garden on Wednesday I looked up to see the distinctive shape of a Red Kite. The bird flew strongly west followed by a Buzzard and then a Marsh Harrier. A raptor passage in North Norfolk was on the cards. Flat bottomed Cumulus clouds meant there were some strong thermals rising and the birds of prey were taking advantage; using them to move north and west along the coast.

Amid a cloud of Buzzards and Sparrowhawks we saw a larger paler bird. A Rough legged Buzzard on the move. Perhaps having wintered in the southern counties or even on the continent, the bird was now making a trek north to breed.

On the cliffs were a host of Wheatears and included within them a larger bolder bird – a ‘Greenland Wheatear’ resting before continuing its mammoth journey north to breed. The ‘chak chak’ of a Ring Ouzel gave away the presence of a pair in the hedgerow. Maybe these are the birds we will see in the Scottish Glens on the first of two April trips north at the weekend. I adore Ring Ousels; their neat white bibs and silver wings give a marked contrast to their otherwise jet plumage.

Waders are scarce in this part of Norfolk. There is little standing water to attract them here. As I stood against an irrigation pool I heard a small wader call above me. She flew down to take rest at the water’s edge. The little madam did not land at the far side of the water but close to me, close enough to grab a shot or two. She was in transitionary plumage; a ball of spots and streaks, a half way house between her winter and breeding garb, a longish bill indicating her gender.

Nice to see so many things on the move.


March Mystery Bird

Raptors are difficult to identify at the best of times especially when perched. It is good therefore that every single entry for last month’s mystery bird named a raptor. It is just a question of which one! All answers fell into three camps; Osprey, Hen Harrier and Rough legged Buzzard.

The picture shows white in the tail/rump area. Given the angle it is difficult to tell if this is actually on the rump as it would be in a Harrier or on the tail as shown by a Rough legged Buzzard. All the possible Harriers with white in the rump; Montague’s, Pallid and Hen are all slim birds with varying slight builds. In fact Harriers can sometimes be attributed to species simply on their structure. Our bird is bulky and broad in the beam and shows a lot of white not a small patch as it would show in the case of a Harrier. It is in fact a Rough legged Buzzard. Photographed in North east Norfolk this winter this individual came into roost in the same general area each night attracted to the area by the cache of Rabbits in a nearby warren. Another photo of the same bird is below.

Six people got the right answer. One of the six entries was submitted by Phil and Jan Thorpe who maintain their record of correct answers and now have three in succession. Well done.

March’s Mystery bird is also below and depicts a Gull. Please submit the id by email to The rules of the competition can be found in a previous posting here. Give it a go … it doesn’t cost anything and you could easily win as successively correct answers mount up!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Jun 2023


%d bloggers like this: