Kirstenbosch raptor watching: any thoughts on this falcon?

While raptor watching at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on Saturday I snapped these poor images of a large falcon. It unfortunately did not hang around and was last seen heading south in the direction of Cecilia Forest. My suspicions, and the opinions of a couple of raptor experts, point towards Eleonora’s Falcon. Does anyone else perhaps have an opinion regarding its identification?

Falcon1 Kirstenbosch Jan 2011

Falcon2 Kirstenbosch Jan 2011

Falcon Kirstenbosch Jan 2011

David Winter

7 comments to Kirstenbosch raptor watching: any thoughts on this falcon?

  • Marlene Hofmeyr

    It looks to me like a peregrine falacon,

  • John Gosling

    I am by no means an expert, especially not with tricky raptors! However, having consulted my raptor books, I would place my bet on a Lanner Falcon, maybe a juvenile? The underwing & tail are quite dark and the tail terminates in a distinct WHITE bar while Eleanor’s Falcon’s tail terminates in a DARK bar – though I’m not sure this is a great distinguishing feature! If it proves to be an Eleanor’s Falcon it will be a very rare sighting indeed! Good luck with the ID!

  • michiel bester

    Saw this bird only once in my lifetime in the eastern part of Zim.It however looks very much like a Eleonoras Falcon.The long tail and the light and dark difference of the underwing.

  • paul gaffan

    Hello David,

    It looks like a light phase Eleanora’s but there seems to be an unusual jizz. Not having seen this bird myself, of course, this could just be a visual problem.

    Best regards


  • Thanks for your comments everyone. It seems there are a variety of views that include Eleonora’s, Lanner, European Hobby and Peregrine.

    Here are some comments from the raptor guru Dick Forsman:
    “I can only agree with you, that the bird in the image is a young dark morph Eleonora’s Falcon. The falcon is young because of its prominent white tail-tip and trailing edge to the wing. Identifying it as an Eleonora’s is to push it a bit, as some juv Hobbies can look extremely similar when viewed against the light and in slightly blurred images like this. However, in this case I believe, that what we see is also the actual truth.”

  • Gavin Cooper

    This morning I had a sigthing over the Alphen Greenbelt in Constantia of a raptor who initially I took to be a Yellow Bill Kite but then noted absence of V in the tail. Tail closer to that or a Lanner but wings like Eurasian Hobby ( page 208 Newmans ) but then looking at clips on Utube of Eleonora’s Falcon the similarities were remarkable. Can it be that we have a Eleonora’s Falcon in the Kirstenbosch / Constania area ?

  • Hi Gavin.

    Eleonora’s Falcon is rather rare in southern Africa so any sightings are likely to be of birds passing through the area rather than resident individuals.

    Thanks for your note.


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