A sad end for one of ‘our’ Buzzards

The PBMS monitors the levels of contaminants to determine how and why they vary between species and regions, how they are changing over time, and the effects that they may have on individual birds and on their populations

Our suspicions proved right when we found the buzzard the next morning

Last Tuesday, I wrote a short blog about a buzzard which the dogs found in our orchard. I was very pleased to be able to get close enough to get a decent photograph, but at the same time, Gill and I were worried that there must be something seriously wrong with the bird for it to allow us to get that close.

I was certain the dogs hadn’t harmed the bird, in fact they were as surprised as me when they discovered it, and they came away immediately when I called them. So Gill and I just hoped that exhaustion might have temporarily overcome the bird, and perhaps it would recover.

Close-up of a buzzard perched on a branch on the ground.
The morning after our close encounter with this buzzard, we found it dead in our orchard

It wasn’t the case, I’m afraid. When we took the dogs out for their run the next morning, we found the bird dead in the corner of the orchard. It showed no sign of physical damage at all, so rather than simply dispose of the corpse by burying it, we decided to find out whether we could send it somewhere for a post mortem and perhaps find out what had caused the bird’s death.

A quick search online led us to the website of the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme, a long-term, national monitoring scheme that quantifies the concentrations of contaminants in the livers and eggs of selected species of predatory and fish-eating birds in Britain.

We contacted the PBMS who advised us to freeze the bird to keep it fresh until the arrival of the box they would send us with all the necessary instructions and a sealed bag to put the bird in. The box arrived the following morning, together with a postage paid label to send the buzzard to them. I understand that in due course, they will get back to us with the results of their findings.




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