Rough-legged BuzzardThough its visits seem not so absolutely confined to the autumn as the Common Buzzard, the Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus) is a much more uncommon visitant to the Channel Islands, and can only be looked upon as a rare occasional straggler. MacCulloch informs me that one was found near L'Hyvreuse in Guernsey, about Christmas, and I found one at the bird-stuffer and carpenter's shop at Alderney, which had been found by his friend who found the Greenland Falcon, but I could get no information about the date except that it was late autumn or winter, and about 2 years ago.
These are the only Channel Island specimens of which I have been able to glean any intelligence. Probably, however, it has occurred at other times and been overlooked. As it may have occasionally been mistaken for the more common Common Buzzard, I may say that it is always to be distinguished from that bird by the feathered tarsus. On the wing, perhaps, when flying overhead, the most readily observed distinction is the dark band on the lower part of the breast.
I have, however, seen a very dark variety of the Roughlegged Buzzard, in which nearly the whole of the plumage was a uniform dark chocolatebrown, and consequently the dark band on the breast could not be seen even when one had the bird in one's hand, and had it not been for the feathered tarsus this bird might easily have been mistaken for a very dark variety of the Common Buzzard, and when on the wing it would have been impossible to identify it.
Indeed, though it was immediately distinguishable from the Common Buzzard by its feathered legs, there was some little difficulty about identifying it, even when handling it as a skin. Prof. Ansted includes the Rough-legged Buzzard in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey.