Aside from Kent, I have been lucky enough to see Pallid Harriers in Kenya, Jordan and most regularly on the Greek island of Lesvos. During this time I have always been eager to gain more experience about id and ageing. Lesvos is certainly a place to do that and I must thank KM for always being so approachable in sharing his knowledge of an evening. I am always learning more on every visit and the more you see the more you learn!
Turn back the clock by just 10-15 years and Pallid Harrier was an extremely rare bird in the UK and certainly anything other than an adult male was considered an id challenge. These days with breeding populations expanding with recent colonists in Finland and birds appearing in Spain more regularly, the species is almost annual in the UK, the most common plumage being juveniles during the Autumn.
Sightings in Lesvos during April are pretty much annual and seem to mostly relate to 2CY birds. Good views are always the key to a positive identification and more often than not, getting photos are usually essential to confirming all the features, as caution is always needed!
|This grainy photo from the archives, shows my very first Pallid Harrier in Kent, August 2002.|
A 3CY bird. Pretty much a full adult bar some central brownish central tail feathers moulting into adult.
|Same bird as above|
|Adult or near adult male Pallid Harrier, Finland May, 2014. Strikingly pale with classic strongly contrasting black "wedges" in primaries|
|Adult or near adult male Pallid Harrier, Finland, May 2014|
|Adult male Pallid Harrier, Jordan, October 2013|
|2CY Male Pallid Harrier, Kalloni Salt Pans, April 2015|
|Yellow iris confirms sex as male, though grey on upperparts perhaps more helpful in field at distance.|
|2CY male Pallid Harrier, Kalloni Salt Pans, April 2014. Again pale colar contrasting with dark area on ear coverts,|
but underwing must be seen for positive id.
|Yellow iris confirms sex as male.|
|2CY male Pallid Harrier, Kalloni Salt Pans, April 2014. Same bird as above. Still showing a lot of juvenile ginger coloration below.|
Most 2CY birds seem to hold onto the classic juvenile plumage until late in the year.
Primary barring mostly confined to central primaries. Pale "boomerang" visible.
Pale collar between dark cheek patch and dark "boa"
2CY male Pallid Harrier, Kalloni Salt Pans, April 2013
|Similar to bird from 2014 in that it retains juvenile plumage still, despite being mid April.|