Saturday, February 26, 2011


I have long thought that our local Buzzards, or at least some of them, move south and west for the winter and return unseen in the spring, but it’s only in more recent years when the species has spread into the Fylde and become quite numerous that their comings and goings have become more obvious. This is especially true in autumn when there are lots of youngsters around and their diurnal dispersal flights are both frequent and obvious.

The BTO Migration Atlas tells me that UK Common Buzzards aren’t truly migratory, but dispersive and a nice phrase this, “winter sensitive”, as to a large extent they depend upon earthworms as a winter staple food and are more likely to move from a location in hard weather. This afternoon I took a walk around Out Rawcliffe and over 4 woods counted a minimum of 14 Buzzards and possibly 16 where in the same area over the winter months I counted between 2 and 4 Buzzards only on most visits. Today, over one wood there were eight circling birds yet to settle which pair takes possession, with four birds debating the same over another wood, then a further two pairs above two other woods, with all the birds indulging in much calling and chasing behaviour.



The other very conspicuous bird today was the unexciting Stock Dove, another species that comes and goes in spring and autumn almost unseen. Today I saw two flocks, one of 28 birds and another of 12, plus at least 7 others as singles or doubles moving around a spot that has several suitable holey and ivy clad trees, where I also saw the Kestrel today.

The Buzzards and the Stock Doves rather distracted me from my walk over the moss but I had a good enough count of most of the regular stuff at the winter feed; 200 Tree Sparrow, 6 Yellowhammer, 4 Reed Buntings and several Chaffinch, with a couple of Blackbirds and a single Song Thrush shooting off ahead of me. Meanwhile a Peregrine came from behind me, not very high but too fast to photograph as it headed across to the neighbouring farm and the couple of thousand Starlings I could see milling about.

Most of the Stock Doves were on the big and now soggy field, with a flock of 70 Lapwings and 22 Skylarks also joining in, while 2 Roe Deer and several Brown Hares headed off at my arrival, long before the birds, a little reluctant to fly into today’s strong westerlies. I had a good count of Grey Partridge today, with 14 birds, probably all leftovers from the autumn releases, but at least they survived the winter shoots and may breed to augment any truly wild stock left.


Stock Dove

I took a walk through the plantation where apart from a few willow catkins, spring growth has yet to threaten our ringing rides still thankfully bare from the winter but waiting for the first Chiffchaff two weeks from now and Willow Warbler in four. Equally the trees were devoid of much birdlife save for a little flock of alder feeding Goldfinch, a couple of Blackbirds, the obligatory Wren, several chuckling Red-legged Partridge.

From the plantation I watched the next pair of Buzzards dive over and into the nearby wood where there was a nest for the last couple of years. It won’t be long now and things really will be buzzing.


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