05 July 2013

Sad demise of a pioneering Honey Buzzard

On 14th June, a flash of green ring amongst the seaweed on Par beach in Cornwall lead to the discovery of the unfortunate remains of a bird of prey. This was in fact the sad end to the pioneering Honey Buzzard GN18656.

GN18656 (Green 4) was originally ringed as a chick (from a brood of two) in Shropshire by Jerry Lewis in July 2000. In 2006, a fieldworker in South Wales noticed a female Honey Buzzard with a colour ring and after some patient observation managed to confirm that this was Green 4. Her distinctive plumage also indicated that she had been in the same area for both the 2004 and 2005 breeding seasons

Green 4 at the nest in South Wales

Amazingly, her mate was also colour-ringed; originally ringed as a chick in North Wales in 2003. A note on this event was published in British Birds (Roberts & Lewis 2008, British-reared Honey-buzzard return to breed in the UK, BB 101, 203-206) and at the time of this sighting she set a new UK longevity record, which was stretched further when she was found breeding nearby (using nest cams) in August 2011 and July 2012. This was a very sad end for such a pioneering bird, but some remarkable information did come from her 13-year life, only possible through the foresight of colour ringing the chicks.

There are very few recoveries of Honey Buzzard, so colour-ringing of birds is vital to increase our knowledge of their movements. The Online Ringing Report shows that British-ringed birds have been found in France (2), Ghana (2) and Guinea and birds from Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands have been found here.

Thanks to Jerry Lewis for the information and the photo, also to Karen Ironside for reporting and photographing the bird in the first place!

1 comment:

  1. What a shame to find her like that but a great contribution her life has made to knowledge of her species. That's why ringing is so important, in all corners of the world.