I fled Scotland a day early and am now back home – the weather drove me away. I did consider turning up at the Scottish Game Fair on Friday, but standing around in the rain, in a soggy field full of people moaning about buzzards didn’t really appeal to me. I see they will get more rain today too.
You didn’t have to be there yesterday, or turn up today or tomorrow, to know that this video of a buzzard taking an osprey from its nest will be much-mentioned. It is an amazing video – well worth watching several times.
The press release from Scottish Land & Estates has the title ‘Buzzard snatch of osprey chick raises conservation fears’ although they couldn’t find anyone who is a professional conservationist to express this view. Instead, the press release quotes Euan Webster as follows:
“This was a shocking act and clearly demonstrates why something needs to be done to control buzzards. It cannot be right that the buzzard remains protected yet they swarm over the countryside in large numbers eating prey – including iconic and beautiful birds such as ospreys – at will.
“Any farmer or shepherd will tell you about the threat from buzzards yet the powers that be are reluctant to face up to the fact that sooner rather than later measures have to put in place to control them. This incident should sound alarm bells among those who care about the conservation of our rarer wild birds such as ospreys in Scotland.
“As a former chairman of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Grampian regional group I am an enthusiastic believer in balanced and managed conservation. I know research by the trust is suggesting buzzards are active predators that may well be affecting conservation of birds in some parts of Scotland. However, I was not prepared to have buzzards (sic) active predatory behaviours so clearly demonstrated right under my nose. It would be a great shame if we could not find a way to reduce the very clear predation pressure from this now ubiquitous predator.”
I’m quite surprised to see a buzzard take an osprey chick from its nest, except that they are well known to do similar tricks with carrion crows and rooks (please step forward you farmers to sing the buzzards’ praises!) and it has been suggested to me that this all looks a bit suspicious (where was the male osprey? was the buzzard a falconer’s bird? how was the osprey carcasse recovered rather than ending up in a buzzard’s nest?) but I prefer to think that there is nothing even remotely suspicious about this remarkable footage. I think this was a real buzzard eating a real osprey.
Let’s hear it for the osprey – laying down its life to save that (temporarily, only) of a pheasant that would otherwise be cruelly taken by a voracious buzzard!
And let’s hear it for the buzzard too – taking a voracious fish-eater that would otherwise be growing up to feast on Scotland’s fishermen’s stocked trout!
You couldn’t get a happier coincidence from the point of view of Scotland’s hunting folk. When they have thought about it a bit more, or at all, they will raise a statue to these two birds as the hunting, shooting and fishing person’s best friends! They may even dedicate the statue to HM the Queen for a laugh. I bet they’ll be passing the hat round at Scone, in the rain, today to commission the work.
Please sign Plantlife’s road verge petition.
Please support Buglife’s call for a public enquiry on the devastating loss of freshwater mussels.
Buy this month’s Birdwatch (that’s the one with the puffin on the cover) to read my monthly column which talks about Walshaw Moor and hen harriers – but also I have an article in this Birdwatch on how climate change will change, and is changing, your birdwatching.
If you are a gardener, you might give a glance to Gardens Illustrated this month (July) where I have a rant about gardeners’ use of peat!
Did you notice the amazing statement by Defra officials (in a letter to the Badger Trust, reported in the Guardian this week) that ‘advice from the NFU was so integral to the development of the cull policy” that it considered the NFU to be a part of the government in this instance, and would therefore not release its “internal” communications with the lobby group‘. Just remember that when you hear the NFU spouting off about the environment – they have such a cosy and close relationship with government that Defra is unwilling to be open about the details of that relationship on a matter of public interest and are regarded by government (which you elected) as part of government. The NFU has disappearingly low scientific credentials but remember that the Tories promised ‘a carefully-managed and science-led policy of badger control’ in their election manifesto. I don’t remember it saying that they would take their advice directly and secretly from the NFU.
And finally, you must have noticed that the four semi-finalists in Euro 2012 were all above average in their Natura 2000 site coverage, and that the team with the greater coverage won each of those semi-finals. Clearly Spain will vanquish Italy tomorrow night.