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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Putative Booted Eagle in East Kent

Fortunately, Bob Gomes managed to get a selection of images of today's Dungeness 'Booted Eagle' and he has posted two flight shots up this evening on Surfbirds.

The bird is clearly in heavy moult and is missing and regrowing both tail and primary feathers. From the limited amount of detail that I can see from the two shots, my impression is of a transitional-plumaged BLACK KITE - a species frequently mistaken for Booted Eagle in autumn, particularly in Turkey and Israel. This fits in with verbal accounts of its appearance I received from at least 15 observers today, whom saw it well from the bridge as it flew up from the field.

Ray Turley had already sprung alarm bells whilst watching it, and others confirmed 'discrepancies' as we observed the ARC Glossy Ibises, stating that they had clearly seen 'unfeathered' tarsi and obvious yellowish legs.

Autumn raptors (or raptors in general) are notoriously difficult to identify and heavily worn individuals such as this magnify by many times the complexities and difficulties involved in making an accurate identification in the field. Bob is to be highly commended for obtaining the images that he did. Once again this highlights the fact that many of the rare birds claimed in this country are actually NOT those species when reasonable photographs are obtained. European Honey Buzzard is perhaps the biggest victim of this - a large percentage of those photographed in Britain are actually Common Buzzards.