Thursday, 9 July 2009

Buzzard tried to pirate Peregrine's prey

Peregrine on tree after losing prey

This is an old sighting, from 2007, but as it was a rather special event, I think it's worth reporting now - written by DS who was running our RSPB Haweswater volunteer working party of four, accompanied by my photos.

A failed attempt by a Buzzard to pirate a Peregrine's prey

On 11th December 2007 at 10.30 am on the northwest side of Haweswater Reservoir our group were alerted to a peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus kill above us by a dull thud! We were unable to identify the prey item but believe it to have been either a Wood Pigeon or a male kestrel. A second peregrine was in the vicinity and the kill may have been the result of co-operative hunting. The bird carrying the prey attempted to head east across the reservoir but the item appeared to be too heavy and the peregrine got progressively lower. We also became aware that a common buzzard Buteo buteo was following the falcon about 20 metres behind. When level with the surface of the water the peregrine dropped its kill and the buzzard alighted on the water presumably in an attempt to retrieve the food! Both peregrines circled the buzzard briefly in agitated fashion and were extremely vocal. One came and briefly landed in a dead tree within 20 metres of us and close to the original kill site. Following this, attention switched to the buzzard and subsequent behaviour by the peregrines was not noted though they took no further interest in the buzzard or prey.

The buzzard was floundering in the water a good 200 metres from the shore. For the next 30 minutes, during which time it was briefly circled over by an inquisitive grey heron Ardea cinerea, it flapped its way in short burst to the safety of the shore. Disappointingly, it did not have the prey item in its possession! Having made dry land it stood bedraggled for several minutes next to large boulder. At this point we left, but the bird was no longer in the same position when we returned about an hour later. A Buzzard, possibly the same bird, was however flying from tree to tree adjacent to the shore in the same vicinity.

Luckily I had my camera out, and caught some of the action, even though it was quite far away:

Peregrine with prey:

Buzzard swimming to shore:

Buzzard reaching shore:

Bedraggled buzzard drying off:

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