On downloading the pictures last night, Mike and I spent a long time looking at them, humming and haaing, about some of the features. One thing that we were fairly sure of is that the bird was not in moult as any missing feathers were far from symmetrical. The bird had lost at least p6 and p7 on the left and perhaps p9 on the right (although this was only picked up in photos later).
Some features that are really puzzling me - some seen in the field, others from a set of poor quality photos are as follows-
- On the side on image when blown up the bird seems to have 6 primaries on the right wing. P10 is there, p9 is missing and seems to be hanging off and twisted. p8 is there, p7 is partially hidden by the twisted pale feather (which i think is p9), p 6 is there and p 5 is there = 6 primaries. Black Kite has six primaries, Common and European Honey Buzzards have 5.
- Longish tail and protruding head.
- evident notch in tail - looking almost forked.
- Bulging secondaries in some photos.
- Pinched in wings at body
- barring on the secondaries. In one photo where the underwing is backlit the barring seems to go right into the body.
- Common Buzzards were not being mobbed and the three in the area were being left well alone - this bird caused 18 Chough, Carrion Crows a Raven and several gulls to get very agitated and even dive bomb or chase it.
- Have you ever seen a profile of a Common Buzzard on the ground that looks like this? Leggy and long. Look at that head shape. To me it almost reminds me of a large gull.
- The fact that it was called as a Honey Buzzard / Osprey as it came in and was only questioned as a Common Buzzard as it flew past, but then Honey Buzzard again when relying on jizz. You'd think six fairly experienced birders could decide on a species of bird that most see thousands of Common Buzzards each year and many Honey Buzzards abroad!
- If it was in moult (which we don't think it was, as the feather loss was far from symmetrical) 2cy Common Buzzards moult their inner primaries around May-June, leaving just the outer most primaries, while 2cy Honey Buzzards moult in Feb-March in the same way. If it was moult, then this would rule out 2cy Honey Buzzard, especially as 2cy birds don't leave Africa! However, the bird looked battered and bruised rather than being in moult.