Country Corner

A buzzard
A buzzard

Remember when the hovering little kestrel was the bird of prey most likely to be seen along our roadsides?

Now that title belongs to this fine fellow, the buzzard.

Looking like a mini eagle, there can be no denying, the buzzard is as handsome as he is fearsome looking.

It often seems surprising that a bird the size of a buzzard can find enough food in our overneat and manicured fieldscape.

However, this bird is an opportunist and generalist rather than any kind of specialist.

For instance, earthworms can form a major part of the diet during field cultivation. In fact, any insect is fair game to a buzzard.

Of course, being a bird of prey, the buzzard is not shy when it comes to using those talons and that hooked bill.

Rabbits, particularly young rabbits, are eagerly sought out as are voles and a surprising number of moles.

Many are taken by force, but others are gleaned as roadkill and casualties.

This attraction to roadkill - rabbits and pheasants - has been the undoing of many a buzzard. hey seem to have very slow reactions to approaching vehicles, in marked contrast to birds like rooks, crows and magpies.

Another problem besetting buzzards at present is RHD. Rabbit Heamorrage Disease has greaatly reduced rabbit numbers throughout the Lothians.

Rabbits are a staple food of many predators and carnivores. Any reduction in rabbit populations means a reduction in the numbers of buzzards.

However, so far buzzards still seem to be our most commonly seen local raptor.

Long may that continue to be the case.