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2013-01-18
Gamekeeper was convicted of poisoning Buzzards.


On Thursday 10th January, a Lincolnshire gamekeeper was convicted of killing two Buzzards and possessing a quantity of an illegally held poison that would have been enough to destroy all the birds of prey in Lincolnshire. Robert William Hebblewhite, 71, of Appleby, Scunthorpe, was fined a total of £1,950 after he was convicted of killing two Buzzards and possessing Carbofuran, a banned poison.

There are currently 240 pairs of Buzzard nesting in Lincolnshire, though the birds only recolonised the county in 1997. Historically, Buzzards were absent from much of eastern Britain due to persecution.

Common Buzzard

The Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo - is a medium to large bird of prey, whose range covers most of Europe and extends into Asia. It is usually resident all year, except in the coldest parts of its range.

Description

The Common Buzzard has a wide variety of plumages. The plumage can vary in Britain from almost pure white to black, but is usually shades of brown, with a pale 'necklace' of feathers. It is recognisable for its rounded head and tail, broad wings and soaring, circling flight. Its plumage is usually brown, the exact colouration and patterning is highly variable, with shades such as blackish-brown, reddish-brown and pale whitish-brown all potentially exhibited. The upperparts are darker then the underparts, and the wingtip and trailing edge of the wing are also noticeably darker than the rest of the wing feathers.

Call

The call is a plaintive peea-ay, similar to a cat's meow.

Food

A very varied diet of pheasant, rabbit, other small mammals to medium mammals, snakes, lizards, worms and insects.

Breeding

Between March and May, the breeding pairs construct a nest in a large tree on a fork or branch, usually near to the edge of a wood. The nest comprises a bulky platform of sticks, lined with greenery, in which the female lays a clutch of between two to four eggs. Following an incubation period of around 33 to 38 days, the chicks hatch and are brooded by the female for three weeks, while the male supplies food. Fledging occurs around 50 to 60 days after hatching, but the young continue to be fed by both parents for a further six to eight weeks.

Conservation Status – Least concern

Historically, in the United Kingdom, this species was affected by widespread persecution by gamekeepers, and despite this activity having been made illegal, it persists in some areas. The common buzzard was also significantly affected by the massive decline in the rabbit population, one of its primary food sources in the UK, which occurred during the 1950s as a result of the introduction of myxomatosis.

Birdwatching

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