Honey-buzzard in Cornwall

The Cornish population appears to be unknown with apparently not even any claims made.

The overall results are now being brought together. A map of NR's sightings of Honey-buzzard in south west England, including Devon and Cornwall from 2006-2019 is available here. Full records are available for Cornwall in 2017 on this sheet.




Number birds

Number sites






Total -- distinct sites for breeding





Area means roughly the land in a 30km radius of the named town or city.

These are very much opportunistic sightings in visits lasting up to one week at a time. It is not believed that more comprehensive figures are available.

To my eye much of the area around Bodmin, especially the Camel Valley (ideal habitat with extensive woods along its banks and shelter from coastal breezes, enabling temperatures to rise) but also Bodmin Moor where afforested, are very suitable for breeding Honey-buzzard. Honey-buzzard were not found on the coast in the trip: they do not like bracing maritime locations. The W part of the British Isles was assumed by many to be a graveyard for Honey-buzzard, all drowning in the Atlantic on migration after following the SW peninsula of England straight out into the Atlantic Ocean. This does not appear to be the case with breeding populations well-established in Devon, Cornwall, North Wales, Morecambe Bay, Galloway in Scotland and Ireland. So what is going on? My guess is that there is increased mortality of inexperienced juvenile birds on their initial emigration but birds who make it to adulthood master the tricky route (and remember it) to establish a successful colonisation.

Multimedia and Notes for Honey-buzzard in Cornwall:

30 May 2017: well, Honey-buzzard do breed in Cornwall!! Great news, which combined with the discoveries in Devon, Ireland, North Wales and Morecambe Bay, shows they do adapt to an oceanic climate if the quality of the woodland is high, which it certainly was today. The 2 occupied sites were found in the Dunmere area 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 on the River Camel. At the 1st site, to S of the wood, the female was seen circling low-down around tall conifers at 12:20 and 12:30 before the male got up for a little display at 12:45, giving a single long flight call; many piccies (7021) were taken with a few here 1  2  3  4 posted initially, followed by these added later 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22, showing the male's long neck, long tail and grey head; the female is larger and darker. The 2nd site was 3km away to the N, roughly in line with regulations! Two birds were seen here as well, with a female up over the open fields at 13:20 and 13:30 and the male up more towards the wood to E, mobbed by 2 Crow, at 13:35. The area appears to be a suntrap with several solar farms and a large vineyard.

31 May 2017: The moors were rough grassland with clumps of gorse bushes: no heather in view. A Common Buzzard was up over a copse to W. From 15:04-15:06 a female Honey-Buzzard was seen floating over the large plantation to NW of Smallacoombe Downs on the edge of the moor; she was patrolling slowly over her territory, not getting up to any great height (7022). So another exciting discovery, suggesting significant occupation of the conifers on the moors. Here's some piccies 1  2  3  4  5  6  7 of the habitat in the area. The site found today appears to be in the Fowey catchment area, with extensive linear woods further downstream, but classified under Bodmin Moor for the moment.

Nick Rossiter 2018

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