Tuesday 13 August 2013

Honey Buzzard setback in northern Belgium

Tuesday 13 August

I have just received  lovely email from my Belgian friend, Marieke and in it she comments on the progress of the raptors in her nearby wood that she monitors, and has done for the pas ten tears or more, on a daily basis.  Whilst her favourite Goshawks seem to be having a good breeding season, the Honey Buzzards seem to have hit the proverbial brick wall; one disaster after another.  Such a pity as Marieke for the past couple of years has enjoyed coming out to Spain to greet "her" Honey Buzzards as they make their way south through the Tarifa area and has even come out here in the Spring to welcome them back!  Sad news, yes, but read on to get a feel for Marieke's study area and the pleasure that she gets from monitoring her local raptors.

This year not such good news from "our" Honey Buzzards.  A few days ago my colleague climbed the 2 nest trees.  In the first one, just one young.  Earlier I found the other one after a heavy thunderstorm, which swept the little bird from the tree.  I found it under the tree soaking wet, dead.  The remaining chick is lively, but a lightweight, it weighed half as much as a bird of the same age that we checked on a nest in 2008.  There were hardly any remains of waspcombs in the nest.  I observed 4x the male carrying a frog to the nest.  My searches for waspnest are not very successful, but obviously the HB have troubles finding them too (probably the reason for the meagre young).

The sole, very thin, surviving Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus chick on 8 August
From the second nest even worse news: 2 predated eggs !!!  What a disappointment !  I was so happy with this territory; this was the area where I made my first steps on the HB search. I was so proud to have found this nest last autumn, so happy to see a couple arrive and display in May, to find moulted feathers …. and now …. nothing … gone …. (was this the "sting in the tail"?).

The second, empty, Honey Buzzard nest on 8 August
A Pine Marten was recently seen in the area…. of course you cannot be sure that he was the perpetrator.  Will see if I can find any further clues on his presence.  I have learnt from BBC 4 radio that this marten likes jam sandwiches, I will feed him next year, that will keep him from HB eggs ! see :  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01dw6yl

I enclose my picture of the dead chick and photos of the 2 nests (by the climber with proper camera).

Washed out, and washed up; the thin dead Honey Buzzard Pernis Apivorus below its nest on 8 August
The other raptors did quite well this season, in spite of the cold spring.  In the study area: 7 Goshawks, 2 Sparrowhawks, 9 Common Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and 1 Hobby.  They all had fledged young.  I find their numbers quite amazing and praise myself lucky to have so many study subjects close to my home.
Marieke Berkvens
You will just have to come back to Spain Marieke so we can once again go in search of your lovely Honey Buzzards. 

 Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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