Monday, 21 March 2011

Mystery raptor at Rhodes **UPDATED 28th March

(Photo Cathy Lee, Text Andy Ruffle)
 This photo was taken on the Naudes Nek drive while we were having breakfast. Those who were there, will remember having good sightings of Bearded Vulture. However, this bird is different and doesn't appear to be a juvenile Bearded Vulture (is it?) as was previously thought by some present.
Habitat is open hilly grassland at altitude.
So, thinking caps on please guys and let's see if we can crack this one.
Post your suggestions and reasoning under comments and let's see what we come up with.
(Tip: you can right click on the picture to save a copy to your computer. This will enable you to zoom in a bit if necessary)

28th March 2011- Well the id of our mystery bird has finally been solved.

A juv Black Harrier it is... see this interesting link here for confirmation.


  1. I'll start the ball rolling.
    I think it could be a juv Black Harrier.
    My reasoning-Dark tips to the wings with dark patch fore, pale patch behind on underwings.
    Tail seems quite long and is boldly barred on underside, with white tip.
    Dark breast and paler, mottled underparts (although I must admit the breast markings are alot darker in my fieldguide).
    general dumpy appearance of bird.
    Why I rule out:-
    Steppe Buzzard- doesn't have very bold stripes on undertail.
    Brown Snake Eagle- is dark brown underneath and doesn't have bold stripes on undertail.
    Black-breasted Snake Eagle- has white forewings underneath.
    Martial Eagle- has dark underwings with pale windows. Undertail not boldly barred.

  2. Stan Culley says

    'It's definitely not a bearded vulture'
    'I think you are right it's a sub-adult/juvenile black harrier'
    'Whilst we were having lunch Lennart mentioned that he thought he had seen a black harrier'

  3. Lester Groeningen says (all the way from Shanghai China)

    I suggest it is an African Hawk Eagle. Stretching its normal distribution a little!!

  4. Lennart Eriksson says

    Herewith the reply from Mark and Trevor - both serious raptorologists.

    It is a Black Harrier.

  5. Barry Porter said on 21 March 2011

    The bird appears to be juv Black Harrier, definitely no Vulture - Bearded has wedge-shaped tail unlike banded tail in photo.