Buzzard Project

17th January 2011
As one of my aims this year was to get some reasonable images of Common Buzzards, I started early. I had noticed this particular buzzard perched on the top of an old hawthorn bush near my local gravel quarry, on a number of occasions. One of the advantages of exploring your local patch on a regular basis is that you tend to notice more each time that you take a look around. I knew from previous visits that there was a large rabbit warren under this hedgerow, and guessed that this was keeping the buzzard interested.

Another advantage for me is that this area is not used by the public, and apart from the very rare dog walker (of which more later!), You can almost guarantee being undisturbed. I then set about building a hide or blind under a nearby hawthorn. I used old branches and then covered this with dry grass and perhaps the only green around in December, Ivy.

Sensibly, this period of activity also coincided with Christmas, a dose of the flu, and I mean flu! And temperatures dropping as low as –14. Not one to be deterred easily I set about some mammoth sessions in the hide. I used road kill pheasants for bait mainly, rabbits that had met the same fate if I could find them. To have success with this sort of project you firstly need to be in the hide while its still dark, and, if possible leave in the dark. With a family, this is a challenge, so I settled for a compromise and would be in the hide in the dark and spend around four to seven hours under cover. Leaving some of the day for family time. A word of caution, one particular session, with temperature at a constant –9 for 6 hours left me with blue hands, even after being fully kitted out for extreme weather. I also had a dilemma when faced with a dog walker walking right past the hide as it was getting light, not wanting him to notice something odd himself and get a scare I decided I would call out “morning”! I think he nearly jumped out of his skin, not that I could see, but we did have a pleasant conversation when he had recovered himself!

I have so far managed one session with the buzzard in attendance (see recent work), but the weather was very poor when this shot was taken and I am still waiting for better conditions to get the image I want. I think I have now clocked up at least forty hours in the hide! Last weekend was a complete wash out as I couldn’t find any bait, and I’m struggling this week with only a road kill squirrel to add to the larder!

I hope to add some more images soon, please wish me luck for next weekend, I think I’m starting to get cabin fever!

Well, I'm afraid that after fifty hours in the hide tomorrow morning will be my last attempt for a while at tempting down a buzzard. I have so many photographic commitments coming up over the next few months! Hopefully I'll have some luck. I think here in Eastern Nottinghamshire the buzzard is still not as widespread as elsewhere in the country, consequently there territories tend to be bigger and the chances of one appearing where you want is smaller. But, as one project ends, another begins.

2nd Update

To prove things never go as planned and that wildlife is by its nature "wild" and unpredictable I had no buzzard visits on Sunday. However, the visit I did have was much more unexpected and welcome! A juvenile Marsh Harrier spent an hour eating the road kill pheasant, again unfortunately in very poor light. As there are reckoned to be 40,000 breeding pairs of buzzard in the uk and under 400 pairs of Marsh Harrier I think you can count this as a bit of a result! I am almost certain that this is one of the two young Marsh Harriers from the first breeding pair of Marsh Harriers in Nottinghamshire. These bred at Langford Lowfields (RSPB), just across the river from my site. I have put a number of images in recent work so please take a look.

Anyway, here’s a mobile phone snapshot of me in the hide.



Photo comment By Norma Lackenby: Hi Scott you don`t know me but I am Stuarts mum. He is always talking about what a good photographer you are and looking at your web site he is correct. I did actually buy a print from Lisa of a hare which I love. Good luck with the buzzards. I saw one at Thoresby Hall just before Christmas, it showed up really well against the snow but I didn`t have my camera handy! The other pic I really like is the robin, the lighting is brill. I made Christmas cards from some of Stuarts robins but this one is outstanding, none of his had snow! Keep up the good work Regards Norma

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