Gyr Falcon - Falco rusticolus 'candicans'

On Tuesday March 24th 1998 - while doing scientific research on Oystercatchers - Leon Peters discovered a white morph Gyr Falcon Falco rusticolus on the central part of Schiermonnikoog (Friesland). He was so friendly to share this spectacular discovery with other birders, so lots of birders had a good opportunity to see this magnificent bird on one of the following days. This 2n calendar-year bird stayed till Monday March 30th. It was seen with regular intervals on poles in the area called 'Oosterkwelder' on the island, but always at a distance.
28 March 1998, Schiermonnikoog Fr; picture taken from a video; © Marc Plomp.
27 March 1998, Schiermonnikoog Fr; © Arnoud van den Berg.
27 March 1998, Schiermonnikoog Fr; © Arnoud van den Berg.

In the Netherlands this was the 6th record of Gyr Falcon and the second record of a white morph. The first record of this form from Greenland was on December 7th 1909, shot at Rijsbergen, Noord-Brabant (cf Dutch Birding 18 (4): 164 and 175, 1996). Although not a new species for me (I saw the famous elusive dark phase bird at the Eeemshaven in 1987), it was almost stupid not to go after this striking bird, which was covered on the national television on Friday March 27th. Other records of dark morphs were in 1849, 1866, 1900 and 1987 (cf Avifauna Neerlandica by Snouckaert van Schauburg, 1908, p 74 and Dutch Birding 10 (1): 12-15, 1988).

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