Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diet of a Golden Eagle.

By contrast to yesterday the day remained fine but with a frost at the commencement. Again the display flight and calls of Lapwing could be heard at first light, but soon petered out to silence. A single Meadow Pipit appeared locally, doubtless the first of many that will be returning to the adjacent moorlands fairly soon. A male Hen Harrier came up the track and leisurely swung over the fence, not 30m. from the back door of the house, its mien fierce and intent.

My neighbouring landlord arrived mid morning with a white sack that indicated some form of surprise! Apparently he had seen one of the local Golden Eagles flying out towards the open moor carrying quite a substantial item, which it then dropped. On retrieving it it proved to be the carcass of a Common Buzzard. The bird was very fresh and all indications were that it had been preyed upon by the eagle. Whilst Golden Eagles are known to take sheep and deer carrion in winter there is also a substantial list of bird species which they are known to have killed, one of which is Common Buzzard. In that fascinating book, "The Golden Eagle" by Jeff Watson ( Poyser,1997 ), various bird species known to have been preyed upon by eagles are listed, which include Manx Shearwater and Bullfinch!! With the demise of the local Rabbits due to disease, the large warren within the territory of these eagles, much relied upon for food, is no longer the convenience it was. Given the harsh conditions experienced in recent weeks the extent to which alternative food sources will have been explored is entirely possible, including this latest menu entry!!

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