The Bickerstaffe Record
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Summer 07 Bickerstaffe Record

Buzzards over Bickerstaffe

07.24.07 | Comment?

 By Pauline Michell – our resident ecologist

I was excited to spot four buzzards (Buteo buteo) soaring overhead whilst sitting in the park on

Hall Lane

enjoying the spring sunshine.  I have spotted them around before during the years I have lived here.  Such impressive majestic birds of prey they are with their broad wings and a wonderful, distinctive, far-carrying call that’s hard to mistake; like a high-pitched mew of a cat (‘piiiyay’). 

Buzzards were once widespread throughout

Britain, seeking open country, farmland and moorland with tracts of woodland.  They still are our most common bird of prey but suffered major declines during the 1950s when the increase in the use of pesticides caused the build up of poisons in the food chain affecting the viability of their eggs.  They also suffered persecution from landowners who kept game birds for shooting.  This persecution still occurs in some parts of the

UK
although to a much lesser extent these days.
 

Buzzards are quite broad in their choice of prey items.  Their main prey is rabbits and small mammals, such as voles.  They sometimes take small ground-nesting birds and game, amphibians and reptiles, earthworms and insects.  Carrion can be included in their diet, picking up roadkills soon after occurrence.  When myxomotosis broke out in the 1950s, rabbit populations were decimated reflecting a decline in the

UK buzzard population. 

 

As a result of more environmentally-friendly land stewardship and reduced persecution, the buzzard population in the

UK has increased and is spreading back into its original range.  This goes hand in hand with the general raised awareness of the species requirements.  It is said that the presence of buzzards is an indicator of the health of the countryside, basically, the more prey there is available at the bottom of the food chain, the more larger predators there will be at the top. 

Have you seen any buzzards nesting in trees in/near Bickerstaffe?  If so, I would be extremely interested to know in order to keep records. 

Happy birdwatching! 

 

 

Pauline 

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