Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Top: Adult female Western Marsh Harrier (subspecies C. a. aeruginosus) at Elmley Marshes, Kent - December 2012
Bottom: Adult male Western Marsh Harrier (subspecies C. a. aeruginosus) at Oare Marshes, Kent - March 2012

OTHER NAMES: Marsh Harrier
Local Name (Spain): Aguilucho lagunero "Lagoon Fight-eagle"
Featured Subspecies Circus aeruginosus aeruginosus
Weight: 400-650g
Length: 43-54cm
Wingspan: 115-130cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Despite being by far the most common of the UKs three regular harriers, the Marsh Harrier still isn't a particularly common bird in most places. AS the name suggests, it favours marshland, although it can occasionally be sighted over less specialised wetland. I cannot recommend Elmley Marshes RSPB enough for seeing this species, on my visits I can often see 15+ of these birds in an afternoon. This however does not mean that the views you get of them are as good it must be noted, and unfortunately, despite the number of sightings, they don't necessarily tend to be that close range unless its in fairly low light anyway.  I also encountered this species in Spain, where it appears much more content to hunt over arable fields than it is in the UK.

Related Species:
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Circus
Subspecies: C. a. aeruginosus, C. a. harterti

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Scarce but locally common breeding resident. (41000 birds)
 -  Stronghold around the Swale,notably Elmley Marshes and Oare Marshes, Also seen at Rainham Marshes on occassion.
SPAIN - Scarce and Local Resident
 - MADRID 2015 TRIP: Several seen in the vicinity of Madrid 
 - MADRID 2016 TRIP: Seen frequently throughout most notably at Laguna Del Longar

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