Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Friday, 16 May 2014

More Buzzards


In the last three days exploring the surrounds of Aberdeen I've found three nest sites belonging to Common Buzzards, a European raptor which (as the name suggests!) is quite common. This wasn't always so, however, as the species was widely persecuted for many years. I watched a pair circling above a wooded area while walking along the River Don on Wednesday, and today I managed to cross the river and investigate. As I approached I heard the cry of a buzzard then noticed one perched atop a sycamore tree at the edge of a field (see the speck in the top of the middle tree above).

Here is the nest. It was about three times the size of the first buzzard nest I'd seen, and for a while I thought it could've belonged to a different species.


Getting up to the nest proved extremely difficult, and I pulled a rib muscle trying to scale the nest tree itself (I'm hoping this won't effect my climbing ability for the rest of my time in Scotland!). In the end I used a handy 'bush ladder' which came in the form of a fallen conifer branch that I used to lean up against the trunk of a tree adjacent to the nest tree, and scaling this gave me the 5 metres or so I needed to reach the lowest limbs. Then it was a relatively easy climb to the top for a closer look. Here's what I found . . . . .

The buzzard nest up close.
This buzzard nest was clearly very old and consisted of multiple stick platforms piled on top of each other, suggesting many years of use. It measured about 1 m deep and 60 cm across, and also had signs it had recently been refurbished with new branches. The nest's contents were particularly exciting: the first of the 2014 buzzard hatchlings surrounded by 4 rabbit carcasses.

A newly hatched buzzard chick is cradled in the nest, next to its two as yet unhatched siblings.
Only 540 m away, in a similar remnant of native trees at the edge of a paddock, another buzzard soaring overhead and diving into the canopy caught my attention, and I watched as it landed in a tall tree. I walked up to this tree and found another nest! This one had a stunning view over the field, and contained SIX eggs! I didn't realise this species could produce such large clutches, and later found out that it has rarely been recorded. Ornithologist Rab Rae advised that this clutch is the work of two females laying in the one nest with eggs fertilised by the one male. The photo below shows two 'sets of three': one trio being composed of two heavier marked, finely speckled eggs and an almost unmarked egg (top left), and the second trio having two more coarsely-blotched eggs and an all white one (two eggs at bottom right and one at centre top). How many chicks will survive?


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