Rural business owner Euan Webster was appalled and saddened when he witnessed one of two Osprey chicks being fledged in a nest on his property being snatched from the nest by a Buzzard earlier this week.
As the female Osprey left her nest, the Buzzard swooped down on the nest at Lochter in Aberdeenshire and stole one of the chicks. Osprey chicks are extremely precious and are currently being managed to ensure the future of their species.
The half eaten carcass of the Osprey chick has now been recovered near the nest and is to be handed over to SASA (Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture - the Scottish Government laboratories) for proper analysis.
Mr Webster has 24/7 video surveillance on the nest for both wildlife watching for the enjoyment of the public in addition to protecting the rare Ospreys. .
He said: “This was a shocking act and clearly demonstrates why something needs to be done to control buzzards. It cannot be right that the buzzard remains protected yet they swarm over the countryside in large numbers eating prey – including iconic and beautiful birds such as Ospreys – at will.
“Any farmer or shepherd will tell you about the threat from Buzzards yet the powers that be are reluctant to face up to the fact that sooner rather than later measures have to put in place to control Buzzards. This incident should sound alarm bells among those who care about the conservation of our rarer wild birds such as Ospreys in Scotland.
“As a former chairman of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust's Grampian regional group I am an enthusiastic believer in balanced and managed conservation. I know research by the Trust is suggesting Buzzards are active predators that may well be affecting conservation of birds in some parts of Scotland. However I was not prepared to have Buzzards active predatory behaviours so clearly demonstrated right under my nose. It would be a great shame if we could not find a way to reduce the very clear predation pressure from this now ubiquitous predator."
Buzzards numbers have been growing steadily since the 1980s and numbers in Scotland are now at record levels. The latest official BTO Bird Atlas Survey demonstrates a more than healthy population which is no longer of conservation concern.
As Buzzard numbers have grown, clearly there is a need for increasing amounts of prey for them to eat. Whilst smaller populations of Buzzards may at one time have been able to survive mostly on carrion, rabbits and small game, this is now clearly not the case with growing numbers of reports of Buzzards preying on other wildlife such as red squirrels and other wild birds, some of them being rare species of conservation concern such as Osprey.
Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “While previous reports of such predation have been brushed off by those who do not like the reality of what is happening in the countryside, this video provides the sad but clear and conclusive evidence of the serious impact that this growing population of Buzzards is now having. The time has surely come for common sense to prevail and for measures to be introduced to properly protect these wild birds and other species that we value so highly. The need to strike a proper balance is now well overdue.”