Worcestershire Record No. 21 April 2007 pp. 21-22
Graham and Marie-Anne Martin
An amazing diversity of live and dead invertebrates seems to be the answer.
So what was the Buzzard after that we saw attacking a Barn Owl? The Owl was stranded on the ground in the early spring growth of a cereal field and we watched it repeatedly being attacked by a Buzzard. The owl tried to hunker down in the cereals but eventually lost its nerve and flew 50 m to a dense roadside hedge. Pursued by the Buzzard it crashed into the hedge and nearly came out the other side with its wings caught up in the hawthorn branches. It sat frozen for a couple of minutes in this awkward posture then recovered itself to a normal perching position. During this time the buzzard flew over once but seemed not to see the owl and flew off across to a nearby copse. Eventually the owl slipped from the hedge and started to forage along the roadside verge and ditch, diving down a couple of time, we followed it for about 4 minutes when it eventually crossed the hedge and flew back up past us in the field.
It was a very special encounter between two predators close to the end of the day on Sunday April 9th 2006 on the road which descends into Aston Somerville from Blake’s Hill (SP041 386). The question remains, was the Buzzard after the owl as prey, or just trying to steal something from the owl, or a more general competitive interaction between territorial species over a common resource? Certainly the owl seemed to behave as though its life was threatened. British Trust for Ornithology’s national bird population trends show that predatory birds are increasing in number, and seeing the Buzzard was not an unusual occurrence in this location. Also Barn Owls seem to have come back into this corner of Worcestershire after a number of year’s absence. Perhaps as these populations grow we shall see more encounters between these predators?
Richard and Alison Medley
10th September 2006
A few days ago we saw a buzzard on the ground in the grass field behind our house (just over the border in Herefordshire). We were puzzled by the way in which it was running across the grass apparently at random. On viewing through binoculars we found it was feeding on large black slugs, which it was eating with great relish. While eating one slug it had already had its eye on another near by and would then scuttle/run across the grass to eat the next victim. It consumed at least eight while we watched and had eaten several before then. First time we had seen this behaviour. What struck us was the relish with which the buzzard was eating these slugs and the amount of ground he covered -'scuttling full-tilt' to get to the next victim!
What do Buzzards eat? On 10th April I was carrying out a Skylark survey near Kemerton. I saw in the distance a Buzzard feeding on something white in an arable field. About an hour later my route took me close to the Buzzard, which flew off. It had been feeding on a large, white chicken. How the chicken had died or had finished up out in the field is not clear.
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