The pallid harrier (circus macrourus - steppekiekendief) is a bird that is on my list for quite some time. Especially the male is such a beauty and is so graceful. It is a breeding bird of the natural rough grasslands like you have them in countries like Kazachstan, Armenia and so on. Last year my wife Linda and I travelled to Oland, Sweden beginning of October. That is the time when most rarities are seen there, and one of them is the pallid harrier.
Because of problems with our camper we had to look for help on the mainland of Skane. And yes we saw a beautiful male pallid harrier there; too far to photograph but what a bird record!
This year in may I travelled with Yves Adams to Kazachstan for a one week scouting floating hide trip. Starling Reizen organized the trip and Mr. Jan Gear provided the necessary and unsurpassed floating hides nbr.2. But in the back of my mind was a good picture of the pallid harrier: we would be in excellent habitat; they would be around!
One morning floating on a pond there I decided to get out; the reason for it I do not remember exactly but most likely the wind. I decided to do some birdwatching on the steppe. A gathering of ruffs and gulls in the distance got my attention; the terrain was a bit lower and the vegetation a bit rougher. So I decided to have a look there. I sat on the ground where I had a good overlook and waited for things to happen, scanning the area.
And, yes, I was in the middle of the hunting ground of a pallid harrier. I was not camouflaged and just sat quietly on the ground and he came close, close enough for good shots! Amazing, this would never happen with our Western European harriers; they are much more cautious. I went back to the spot on 2 other occasions, one time camouflaged and the last time without camouflage. And he came closer when I was not camouflaged. Afterwards, at home, I read in the book 'The birds of the western palearctic' that they are apparently indifferent to man during casual encounters! A photographers dream!
So that's my story and here are the pictures; what a joy this was!