IT WASN’T too long ago this would have been a rare sight, a beautiful bird of prey soaring across the skies of a local town.
Thanks to the resurgence in buzzard populations across Ireland and the UK in recent years, though, this feathered Fermanagh resident may be a familiar face to many locals in Lisnaskea.
Captured on camera by Herald photographer Andrew Paton at the weekend, the impressive bird was perfectly at home behind the Castle Park Centre in the town on Saturday. Casually gliding across the playing fields, calmly resting on the goal posts, and diving down for a quick snack, the bird was seemingly care free and at ease around its human neighbours.
It’s not unusual behaviour for buzzards, which are often found hunting around farms, woodland, villages, and around the outskirts of built up areas and feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles and smaller prey such as worms. The large birds, which have a distinctive ‘mewing’ call that can be mistaken for a cat, have ‘v’ shaped wings and a short barred tail.
The RSPB have said the birds are “one of the success stories” of birds of prey, with buzzards now the most common raptor in Ireland and the UK, having come back from the brink over the past century. The bird charity said this was “thanks partly to the enlightened attitudes of lowland gamekeepers.”
“Since 2000 they have nested in every UK County,” said the RSPB, who that there were around 44,000 territorial pairs across the UK. “Today, the buzzard is our commonest raptor, having recolonised all the areas occupied in the 1800s.”
According to Bird Watch Ireland buzzards, which are protected by law both north and south, were now widespread across the island.
“The stronghold of the species is in Co Donegal, Co Monaghan and Co Louth,” said a Bird Watch Ireland spokesman.
“Birds nest in trees and sometimes on cliffs, usually with access to open land including farmland, moorland and wetland.
“The species was absent in Ireland from the late nineteenth century until 1933, when a pair bred in Antrim. The species has spread slowly down from the north through the twentieth century.”
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