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Post Info TOPIC: Marsh Harrier 23/08/07


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Marsh Harrier 23/08/07
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Cowm Res Hillside 12:00

1 x Female possible young Bird.

Looked like it had landed as it started low as Crows mobbed. Circled for some time and flew steadily South West.

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Well done Ste on seeing the Marsh Harrier,I was at work and missed the bird.I got the Kingfisher at Cowm last Saturday,which,was also a bit unusual.Will see you around.

Dave Ousey.

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Hi Dave

Yes great bird but always feel sorry for them as they never get a chance to rest up.

It's funny about the Kingfisher as whenever I meet a "dog walker" on my walk round res the amount of people that say the Kingfisher is just over there on the stream is quite amazing.

I was beginning to think it was a myth that has been passes on to other people except me!

I will have to keep a closer eye out for that. Would love a decent pic of one.

Cheers David

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Hi Ste,

just had a brief look on your website and saw the picture of the bird, it may be me being tired and not really concentrating but is the photo not of a Red Kite? The tail certinaly suggests it?

anyway its late and when i look again in tomorrow ill probably say 'why did i say red kite!'.

Regards

David

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why is it that i cant   see this pic?  

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Hi Sarfraz

You will have to visit my web site and look at the diary to see it.

DaveRochdale

I know the tail in particular was causing some problems for me too but the creamy head and the black tip to the wing tips stood out. And the other thing was it's gliding flight and size all said harrier. But as you say that tail was a bugger!





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cheers ste,

Have copied this image into photoshop to play around and see whats what and, i believe, that the tail is certainly kite species, and then playing with contrast and saturation to bring up colour and tonal differences then there are a few other things that suggest red kite; black wing tips, pale upto the middle of the wing then dark (3 colours or tonal ranges with a pattern resembling red kite, marsh harrier would look pritty much the same all the way through). When you wack up the saturation the body of the bird is red and only this part is, the head and tail are a very similar colour (pale) and the pattern in the wings becomes more obvious).
I can email an editted version of the image if you want to show you what i mean.
Hope its of some help

Dave

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this bird here has a similarish tail

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarfrazh/397639144/

i did nt know what it was at first but it turned out to be a black kite - the comments tell you more.

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i showed the pic of mine to someone i know online who has also left you a comment

this is what they wrote to me

Hi. You mean the distant flying raptor? It's a red kite
(tail shape, pale patch on primaries), not a marsh harrier.
I've left a message on his guestbook to tell him so. I see
you and others have told him that in his forum as well.
smile.gif

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If all are saying Red Kite I am happy to accept this being a Kite

I guess you never finish learning ...but a Red Kite thats unforgivable!!!

Interesting to note though that I watched this bird for 4-5mins and when bamking no red of tail or any fork was shown.

The worst thing is I have just (April) spent 12 days looking at Marsh Harrier abroad. Would this count as a good excuse to go and look at them some more!

Thanks Dave

Any tips on Ruff would be appreciated whilst on my learning curve...I really don't get on with them.

Jim are you ok for record as Red Kite?

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I'm happy to go along with Red Kite if others are. I'm not a raptor expert - particularly when doing ID on distant photos of the birds, but all the comments seem to point to RK. Useful things, forums.

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Well this is interesting I put the photo on bird forum and here are some of the replies to those interested.

Link attached

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=94768

-- Edited by Ste Rush at 01:12, 2007-08-26

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It may also be helpful to note the first image and in particular the tail shape of the Male bird above the Female.

http://www.lincsbirdclub.co.uk/rare_birds/marsh_harrier_3.htm

The other thing I am finding hard to grasp is the lack of dark edges or emargination to the outer tail feathers as a Red Kite should show.

I have to say that due to many messages regarding this bird and many differing opinion I shall be putting Marsh Harrier for my personal records.

I am happy with this as it never at any time looked like a Red Kite. Once I had got over my own hurdle of tail shape, which I have, it was always a Marsh Harrier for me.

Sorry if this is not your feeling about this bird but I disagree on the bird
" marsh harrier would look pritty much the same all the way through" A young bird has much variation in my view.

I have enjoyed this a great deal as it has helped greatly with how to really watch a bird better and showing that pictures are not the be all and end all of a subject.

Circumstantial I realise but when I went to enter the record for this bird I noticed other sightings.
23rd
1) Prescot res (Lancs) 08:00 Female
2) Whin Lane Ends (lLanc's) 08:40 Juvenile flying East.

24th
1)Pennington Flash

25th
1)Downholland Moss (lanc's) Juvenile
2)Burton Marsh (Cheshire) No sex or age given
3)Altcar Withens (lancs) Four Juveniles

So they are about at the moment.

-- Edited by Ste Rush at 01:26, 2007-08-26

-- Edited by Ste Rush at 11:00, 2007-08-26

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hi ste,

but if it were a marsh harrier, juv/fem or male, why does the underwing pattern not match up? THe pattern is p[erfect for red kite, like i say just zoom in and play with the image in photoshop and it becomes very clear!

with respect to the marsh harrier records they are all well and truly good, but you miss the fact that there was a red kite heading NW over White Holme res the other week (surely in the direction of Cowm?) and there has been a bird roaming lancs for a few years, not to mention the numbers of sightings of birds coming from re introduction in west yorks.

The problem is is the bird in the image shows all the features of Red Kite once you inspect it properly and hardly any of a fem/imm marsh harrier.

The comments on bird forum some are simply laughable! I know myself and Ian Mckerchar (Manc rarities committee) dont use this site because some of the people on it have no idea what they are talking about.

I have forwarded the image to Judith Smith (Manc Recorder and is on the BBRC), Ian Mckerchar (manc rarities committee) so hopefully we can have some real experts views.

Hope you take this in good humour ste, its a great discussion and its brill that local birders can throw around ideas and opinions like these and really get down to whats what. By all means put it down as Marsh Harrier in your records, but i have taken a particular intrest in this record as the bird would have almost certainly flown into Rochdale, and being the Rochdale Bird recorder i need to know what it was - the image shows what appears to be a red kite in my eyes, but i will gladly hold my hands up if some people such as ian and judith who know what they are talking about and have a vast amount of credability behind them say its a marsh harrier.

I await there answers and will post when i hear from them - until then the mystery continues!

best wishes

dave


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Hi Dave

I understand your stance regarding Bird forum and that some people give poor or innacurate information but please be very careful not to castigate to many people as I would like you to clarify, for the purpose of correct identification and statements given your own comment, marsh harrier would look pritty much the same all the way through. I feel that is as inaccurate as any information you could possibly read on any forum.

What I have gained from this is that a lot of conclusions are jumped at and I realise that this is not a new trend but one which is not helpful whether the person is agreeing or not.

I thank you for putting this forward to Judith but I would hope that a photo of a bird having been altered in photoshop and taken at such distance would not allow such a definative answer to be applied from this. Surely 2 pairs of eyes looking at this bird is far more valuable?

As in all ID conundrums differences will arrise but the unalltered state is the fact that 2 people saw this and a forum has a picture of it. I think it would harm credibility to say for sure one way or the other.

I feel it important for anybody to view this image in it's altered state via any photo editing suite would have to have a great understanding of both usuage of editing software and an accomplished raptor expert in the field of altered images.

Is this getting heavy? It's always the same with this kind of thing.

Interested to know your opinion of the Marsh Harrier photo with the tail showing signs of Kite Dave?

One thing for me though is no matter what may well occur regarding opinion I think it best not to record the species as any particular bird as an innacurate recording is just as poor as an innacurate ID.

May I ask what the feeling from others is on how to record the subject? I realise that some probably don't want to get involved with ID disscussion but I would just like to know how this gets recorded?

I really should get out more!


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And just to throw more hot water at it.

Having had a discussion with Ian Wallace, I can assure you that such an accomplished birder as himself have had birds, several birds in fact, which have been thrown out by such bodies. And the great thing is he's so passionate about his accuracy about these birds even though one of these was a bird back in the 40s or 50s if I remember well.

Although I am not sure I would quite like to think I have his style of dress I do like his verve.



-- Edited by Ste Rush at 07:13, 2007-08-28

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Might I suggest that in terms of public record, the bird's true identity may have to remain unresolved. The following words, taken from the introduction to 'Flight Identification of European Raptors' by R.F.Porter et al., are surely pertinent in this instance.

"The identification of birds of prey in flight will always be a problem. No one can ever feel confident when confronted with species from a group showing such diversity of plumage, whose silhouettes vary in subtle ways in different circumstances, and for which the challenge of identification is so often made at considerable range".


-- Edited by Tony Cooper at 13:22, 2007-08-27

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Hi Tony

I agree with that a whole lot. Those are the words of a man who, I presume, has watched a lot of birds and consequently has come to that conclusion.

I personally would not like a record to be entered if inaccurate.

Although I have to say, and I know it may appear blase, for me I enjoyed the bird whether Kite or Harrier and at no point would a record of a bird ever be more pertinent to my overall love of the natural world whilst I do take into account that recording is important within the natural world.

I would feel it difficult to give a correct ID off this photo and the fact that Bird Forum members all have differing views on this matter, one even saying playing around in photoshop brings Marsh Harrier up just reinforces my view. What Bird Forum does show, for me and the reason I threw it out to anonymous folks, was to to strengthen my view that the photo is not enough to say EITHER way what it is.

-- Edited by Ste Rush at 07:13, 2007-08-28

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I am sorry to ask but I did not know Judith was on the BBRC but I really don't know. Can somebody confirm this? I thought she was on the The Rare Breeding Birds Panel.

Interesting on the Manchersterbirding site Mr Ian Mckerchar writes

Even though the committee recognises the huge increase in digital photography and the role it has to play in the assessment of rarities, including the committees recently integrated method of assessing particular records by photograph only (without the need for an accompanying written description), digital photographs can often be terribly misleading and I certainly believe that other than those extreme circumstances of a very well watched and closely studied, non-contentious bird, photographs can currently only play a supporting role in the assessment of any record.

Firstly the committee is rightly wary of any rarity submission that only includes the photo of a rarity with no recognisable background in it, call it over cautious but it would not be the first time someone has tried to fool a committee! Digital photographs can very often show colours differently than they appear in the field, especially if they have been altered in Photoshop or a similar program and can be very misleading, going even further, colour representation on computer monitors often varies widely and is something that is usually given little thought. Photographs capture a split second in time and they are heavily influenced by the lighting conditions or the angle or position of the subject, whereas field notes are taken over a period of time and encompass every conceivable angle and position, formulating an overall description and feel for the bird, something only a long series of photographs could only come close to.

Another recent problem of digital photography is that the photographers often becomes engrossed by their subject down the small viewfinder or screen on their camera, an un-involving view that does little for close study and appreciation of any bird. This 'tunnel vision' has lead to mis-identifications in the recent past as birds can often appear appreciably different in a camera screen rather than the involving view through a telescope, pair of binoculars or indeed your own eyes and if the bird should fly off before field notes can be obtained (and don't they always!) the observer is usually left to assemble a description off the photographs they have achieved, often a mistake.

Of course, digital photography has a large part to play in modern birding and I for one certainly enjoy the new opportunities it offers but I do fear we often place too much importance on it and would like to think that both photographs and field notes can still go hand in hand but how many of you take a digital camera out birding and how may do the same with a note book? That said, digital photography is undoubtedly (how ever much I grumble!) the future and there may well come a time when field descriptions are no more as a recent rarity submissions to BBRC of a series of digital photographs only, with important features pointed out and inserted onto the images proved highly successful and even I had to admit that I wouldn't mind receiving a few submissions of it's quality!

A picture speaks a thousand words but a few field notes are of more benefit.

Keep smilin!






-- Edited by Ste Rush at 07:12, 2007-08-28

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Hi ste,

seems like you and me are taking over the forum! Yes judith is in the breeding birds panel not BBRC my mistake, apologies.

What Ian writes abot digital photography is interesting - i study photography at degree level and so have a more rounded knowledge on what is really what with it - i could go on for hours about that but we will leave that for another day!

Would be easier for you and me to meet for a drink to discuss it rather than continue on here!

Anyway the bottom line is no one else was there so no one saw the bird, if you were to write a rarities form off your field notes it would proberbly be accepted - the problem lies in a photograph - a moment captured in time. From the photograph we all based our judgement. The markings and shape of the bird are all there - so there was nothing wrong with lighting - if there was your eyes also have the same problem.

The image flags up questions that needed answering, like the tail and the underwing pattern - its only by going through these can we really get to the nitty gritty of it.

Personaly the tail and wing pattern are certainly that of red kite and i can not see any features from the photo of a marsh harrier - like wise you are vice versa.

It would be good to see any other images you have of the bird? another frame might show it to be prestine fem marsh harrier and the other frame was a fluke.


anyway, enough said on the matter


Regards and Best Wishes


Dave



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Just to let you know that Judith has gone with a 'definite Red Kite' and Ian Mckerchar has said it is certainly not Marsh Harrier but wouldnt say that Black Kite was ruled out.

More food for thought.

dave

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Disappointed that both Experts would pass an opinion.

Both experts yet differing opinion.........

-- Edited by Ste Rush at 07:12, 2007-08-28

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so much confusion over this bird.  I would love to add and say how can you mistake a red kite and a marsh harrier as both are different coloured.  although i have to admit its very easy and colouring of birds is very easily manipulated by the way they fly and weather conditions. 

the debate is a very interesting one and good to see how wide the opinions can be.  all 3 birds i guess are qute rare to the area so it makes it all the more interesting.  the slow spread of red kites, the wanderings of a marsh harrier and the inevitable colonisation of black kites.

the best i can say is go over what you saw and then what do you remember about it.  surely a red kite would looked different colourwise unless you were very far from it. 

se what the experts say and i guess if possible it may give you a clearer idea of what it is.  although it has created more confusion.   the medium sized raptors from 40cm to 70 cm  can be very confusing for some reason. 

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