Unidentified raptor - Cape York - request

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Unidentified raptor - Cape York - request
From: Lloyd Nielsen <>
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2003 12:03:46 +1000
During Klaus Uhlenhut's annual bird week at Bamaga (tip of Cape York
Peninsula) in early January 2003, we found a raptor which was obviously
not an Australian species. We obtained a good description of it and I
have since been able to draw up a fairly accurate illustration of it. I
have recently sent copies to some of the Australian raptor experts for
an opinion but it is a bit of a struggle, none of us being overly
familiar with SE Asian raptors. The bird is probably a juvenile and
possibly just moulting into the next plumage stage or maybe is acquiring
some adult feathers which makes it even more difficult. We think it is
one of the Serpent-Eagles Spilornis sp.

This posting is firstly to see if there is someone out there who knows
the SE Asian raptors well and who wouldn't mind having a look at it and
giving an opinion. It would suit me better to snail mail a copy at the

Secondly, if anyone is up on Cape York later in the year, it would be
worth keeping an eye out for a strange raptor in case it hangs around.
We saw it about 10 km north of Bamaga on the road to Lockerbie. It
remained at the same place for about 36 hours, even returning to the
same perch. Superficially, it resembled a juvenile Brahminy Kite.
However, it was just a little larger than a Whistling Kite (and larger
than a Brahminy). Most obvious features were brown breast with darker
streaking, fairly well demarcated from a creamy lower belly; rather
longish bare, dark grey tarsus; basically cream/white and brown head;
dark mask through eye; cream collar; an isolated dark brown cap. It also
had a shaggy rudimentary crest on its nape. Flight profile was a slight
concave bow in wings with primaries slightly raised. Tail was shortish
and unbarred. Back and wings were dark brown.

Lloyd Nielsen,
Mt Molloy  Nth Qld

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