Spotter Harrier(?) over Giralang

To: "'Duncan McCaskill'" <>
Subject: Spotter Harrier(?) over Giralang
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Thu, 9 May 2013 16:11:45 +1000
The new book by Stephen Debus tells pretty much all you need to know about identifying these things. The colour pattern of harriers vary a lot by age (Spotted) and age and sex (Swamp), so can be confusing. Long ago Stephen Debus told me that at all plumage stages, the Spotted Harrier always has spots, speckles or uneven colour pattern on the feathers along the forearm (upperside) - (think of where a Black-shouldered Kite is black - which is not on the shoulders - noting that Stephen Debus' book often wrongly uses the word "shoulders"). In contrast at all plumage stages, the Swamp Harrier is rather even coloured on these parts. There are other differences. Spotted Harrier wing tips are almost black, Swamp Harrier wing tips are darker than the rest of the underwing but not black (except maybe the juveniles).
-----Original Message-----
From: Daryl King [
Sent: Thursday, 9 May 2013 6:13 AM
To: Duncan McCaskill
Cc: canberra birds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Spotter Harrier(?) over Giralang

At about 2:00 pm yesterday I watched a juvenile Spotted Harrier hunting low, and occasionally landing, along a stretch of Ginninderra Creek in the south-west corner of Flynn (near the intersection of Ginninderra and Kingsford-Smith Drives - about -35.215638, 149.042768).

On 8/05/2013 12:04 PM, Duncan McCaskill wrote:
A largish raptor flew over my garden in Giralang this morning. It was generally light brown with very dark tips to outer wing feathers underneath. My best guess from the guide books is a juvenile Spotted Harrier. It wasn't the Whistling Kite which has been around here a few times lately nor was a mature Spotted Harrier. At first it was flying below tree top level but went higher under harassment from 5 or so magpies.

This was at about 11:15 and the bird was heading south over Lawson towards Belconnen. 

Is there anything else that might meet that description? A light Swamp Harrier?


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