Swamp Harrier drops its prey

Swamp Harriers look majestic on their upswept wings as they fly low over paddocks and swamps searching for prey but quite comical when their prey escapes, I found it hard not to anthropomorphise when looking at these images.


Swamp Harrier - Kim WormaldSwamp Harrier (Circus approximans) – immature
Canon 5D Mark III, 100-400mm L IS USM


This juvenile swampie was left holding tufts of fur in its bill and talons. Swamp Harriers predominantly prey on small mammals and birds, the fur looks as though it could have belonged to a rabbit. Swamp Harriers are about 60cm with a wingspan of almost 1.5m.

 Swamp Harrier - Kim WormaldSwamp Harrier


The pose above is typical of the way Swamp Harriers hunt, flying on upswept wings with their tails fanned and their long yellow legs dangling.

 Swamp Harrier - Kim WormaldSwamp Harrier


Mature Swamp Harriers have white rumps which are an excellent identifier. This immature bird has not yet developed the white rump and still has chocolate-brown colouring and shadowy bars on its tail. I like the way it peeked at me from under its wing as it turned.


Swamp Harrier - Kim WormaldSwamp Harrier


It was thoughtful of this bird to show me its back as well as its underside but I wish it had been closer, hopefully next time.

 Swamp Harrier - Kim WormaldSwamp Harrier


The image above shows how low to the ground the Swamp Harriers fly when looking for prey, or for dropped lunches.

I was impressed with the Canon 5D Mark III when taking these shots; the harrier was a long way from me and the images are quite heavily cropped but have maintained some detail and a catchlight in the eye in the third and fourth images.

Happy birding, Kim


PS I’ve been distracted over the past few weeks by little bundles of fluffiness like this:

Puppy - Kim Wormald



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