Friday, 3 June 2016

The Reality of Life

A story from The Raptor

This story came to me from the guys at Ardnamurchan Estate.  I have been keeping an eye on a buzzard's nest close by the office - some may recall my post last year when the buzzards moved nest to the junction by the main road, where they successfully raised two chicks, but they must have found it a bit noisy and this year moved back to their original nest site.

I had been watching the rebuild of the nest, then the female spending more time on the nest obviously incubating an egg or eggs!.    Well at least two as recently I had been watching a couple of little balls of fluff beginning to stretch and grow.

Now for the brutal reality of life in nature.  On Tuesday morning as I arrived at work I was greeted with looks of horror and comments of 'now I hope this doesn't upset you'... puzzled I asked what was ado!  Then the story reveals.

Only minutes before I arrived at work the guys had heard quite a disturbance in the air, birds of all sorts were circling and calling and as loud as they could.  A white tailed sea eagle was circling over the bay, it came in close enough to the buzzards nest to set the female buzzard up, this then caught the attention of a couple of passing gulls who also joined in the harassing of the eagle. However, the eagle persisted on its mission and kept circling closer and closer to the nest, then two ravens joined in the harassment closely followed by a couple of hoodies but no matter how many dives and attacks this band of birds made on the eagle it carried on eyeing up the nest and moving in closer and closer, I suppose all the time gauging the distance onto the nest and also if it could make a successful raid. The harassing continued unabated by these aerial combatants, all it seems in vain as the eagle eventually made its move and went into a dive, folding it's great wings back and at great speed went crashing into the trees and through the branches straight onto the buzzard's nest. The noise from the buzzard, the gulls, ravens and hoodies was at a crescendo. Just a second later the eagle emerged from the tree working its wings hard to gain height and get into the air and there held in its huge talons was a large limp payload, a pair of helpless buzzard chicks! A precision attack by a master predator and a hard earned meal for its young, for it too has young to feed.

The buzzards the mating season was over in an instant all the hard work in repairing the nest, the laying of eggs, the whole incubation period and the hours of hunting and feeding the next generation, gone in a second of majestic but brutal reality of life in nature.

Our tale however goes on. The following day I was sure I heard a high pitched squeal coming from the trees.  I moved closer and waited a while and then and a very fluffy white head popped up as an adult buzzard swooped into the nest carrying a mouse or a vole. One chick had survived this aerial attack, and now on its own and being the sole focus of both parents I should hope it continues its growth unmolested into adulthood.

I have to thank all my roving reports at the estate for relaying this story.  We will keep you updated on the remaining time our chick has on the nest.

The Raptor