Steppe Buzzard - first record for Lesvos

Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus
21 December 2012 nr Kedro, Lesvos

This fabulous adult Steppe Buzzard was found by Petros Tsakmakis sitting on lampposts along the main Mytilini to Kalloni road near Kedro on 17 November. It was only when he posted images on to the Lesvos Birds Facebook page that it I saw it and instantly identified it as a Steppe Buzzard - the first confirmed record for Lesvos! It was stiull present in the same area (GPS 39.104872,26.519119) 31 December.

This is what I wrote on Facebook -

This is a great shot and shows why it is a Steppe Buzzard rather than a Common Buzzard really well.

1. look at the rich, fox-red colouration of the bird - classic!
2. this red colouration is poretty uniform from the head, down the body, under the tail and
 on the underwing coverts
3. This red colour contrasts really well in the wing with the black carpal and thick trailing edge
4. the black subterminal band on the tail set against a rufous background - again, this is classic Steppe B
5.if this bird was soaring then we'd be able to look at some of the structural difference which make them look more honey-buzzard like. But on these images its impossible to tell them simply on shape/structure from Common.

For me this is as good as an adult Steppe Buzzard should be. So many birds are intermediate, but this is a corker, especially in this image. 

I've seen rufous-coloured Common Buzzards on the island (see them each year) but I haven't seen anything remotely close to this bird.

I do think they must be rare, and I do think that they are a rare winter visitor (and possible very early spring migrant). Combine rarity with very few birders on the island in winter and early spring and I think we see why we haven't had a 100% confirmed bird before. Some close descriptions in the past, but these have not fully ruled our the resident rufous Common and we've said for some years that we will only accept Steppe on to the list when we have some good images. And we have!

Here's some more of Petros' images.

All images © Petros Tsakmakis