I didn’t see a single Buzzard today on the way to Peterborough, just three Kestrels and a Red Kite. My first thought on seeing an increase in Kestrels and a decrease in Buzzards is that the Kestrels must have eaten the Buzzards.
According to point 4 in this document I couldn’t be more wrong: it looks like Buzzards may actually be eating Kestrels. As the ones I see are mainly lurking round roadsides waiting for a car to kill something, or even walking the floor looking for worms, I’m amazed they have the energy, or the speed to take a Kestrel.
This sounds wrong to me, as I don’t really think of birds of prey eating each other. I tend to think of them eating less well-armed prey. A quick look at the diet of the Eagle Owl demonstrates that birds of prey do eat other birds of prey – one record of a nesting pair in Scandinavia tool 13 other raptors in a single breeding season. Their favoured prey is the Buzzard. If we ever start a reintroduction process for the Eagle Owl they won’t be short of food for while.
In the end I’ve been forced to conclude the Buzzards were just somewhere else, possibly sheltering from the wind. On cold, wet days I’ve often noticed that they tend to hunch down at lower levels, and are more inclined to take to the fields looking for worms. On previous windy days I’ve also noted a lack of birds. I suspect that, like me, they look for shelter when it’s windy.
After seeing my father and being soundly beaten at dominoes I went to the services on the A1 for a bean burger (for research purposes only, you understand). I took some photographs of the Roman antiquities they found whilst excavating the foundations. I’ll load them tomorrow as I can’t get them off my phone.