By Will Finch
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Rare birds in danger as online footage is released of an osprey chick being stolen from its nest by a buzzard.
Fears have been raised for some of Scotland’s rarest birds after dramatic video footage emerged online of an osprey chick being snatched from its nest by a buzzard.
The video was released by landowner Euan Webster who maintains round-the-clock video surveillance on the nest, located at Lochter Activity centre in Aberdeenshire.
Workers and customers at the site say they have been left ‘shattered’ at the loss of the four-week old chick and now fear for the survival of its remaining sibling.
“This was a shocking act,” Mr Webster said, “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.”
Mr Webster said that he believed the nest raid counters received opinion from bird experts about buzzard feeding behaviour.
“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 them.
“This incident should sound alarm bells among those who care about the conservation of our rarer wild birds in Scotland.”
The half eaten carcass of the chick was later recovered and will be handed over to Scottish Government laboratory Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture for full analysis.
Commenting on the incident, Scottish Land & Estates chief executive Douglas McAdam 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.”
Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg said that the incident would come as ‘no surprise’ to anyone who operates daily in the countryside.
“It’s not just ospreys but endangered birds on the conservation list, like waders, that are under increasing pressure of predation from buzzards,” he said.
“Buzzard numbers have reached record heights and, for the good of other wild birds and for Scotland’s biodiversity, something needs to be done to restore a balance.
“If nothing is put in place to redress an issue which has clearly moved beyond a tipping point, the loser will be Scotland’s skies and its wild bird population.”
However, RSPB Scotland, which recently put pressure on the government to promise that no licences would ever be issued to kill buzzards, said the footage should not be used as an attempt to justify controlling a protected species.
A spokesman said: “Ospreys are doing spectacularly well as a breeding bird in Scotland, and have increased their population considerably in recent years.
“Indeed, territorial nesting pairs are now beginning to establish themselves south of the border in England as a result of their steadily improving conservation status in Scotland. One perfectly natural, isolated predation incident by another bird of prey is not going to change that.
“In more than 50 years of monitoring an osprey nest at our nature reserve on Loch Garten in Badenoch and Strathspey we have never seen any such similar incident.
“By the same logic, will this organisation [Scottish Land & Estates] also be making similar calls for the control of ospreys because one has been filmed catching a fish?”
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