Population of the Honey-buzzard in Northumberland

Population data for Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus from 1993-2001 are given in the paper:

Return of the Honey Buzzard by Nick Rossiter, Birds in Northumbria 2001, Northumberland & Tyneside Bird Club 169-172 (2002).

Data for later years is appended to Table 1. All the data in the table refers to the study area in south west Northumberland. In 2003 small numbers were found in casual visits to north Northumberland (3 localities, 4 adults, 1 juvenile). In 2004 one adult was found in north Northumberland. In 2006 a single was found in south east Northumberland. In 2007 a pair was found in north Northumberland and singles displaying in west and south east Northumberland. No pairs were found in Northumberland outside the study area in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 in west Northumberland a male was seen in mid-May and a female in display towards the end of July. In 2011 3 birds (pair, male) were seen in the North Tyne valley in mid-July. In 2012 a male was hunting over open moor at Blindburn on 11/8. In 2013 a female was at St Cuthbert's Wood on 11/8. In 2014 there were 3 sightings in north Northumberland in the fledging season: a juvenile at Elsdonburn on 24/8 and, on 7/9, a juvenile at Chillingham Park and 3 birds up in the air over Lilburn Towers at 13:10 with male and female high-up and a juvenile floating a long way below. In 2016 2 sites were occupied in Kidland Forest on 21/7, with a male displaying at one site and a female gliding through a valley at the other. All these sightings, made casually without any systematic survey effort, strongly suggest an established Honey-buzzard population particularly in north and west Northumberland; however, it is not possible to quantify the size of the population.

A critical review of the Northumberland CRC handling of Honey-buzzard records is given elsewhere. Video material for identification purposes is also available elsewhere.

Year

Number of localities

Number of adults seen in season

Number of juveniles fledged

Number of migrants seen (juveniles)






1993

1

2

?

0

1994

1

2

1

0

1995

4

4

3

0

1996

5

8

5

1

1997

5

8

4

0

1998*

6

10

5

0

1999

6

11

7

0

2000

5

9

8

2

2001

9

18

11

2

2002

15

26

17

9

2003

22

40

21

6

2004

26

41

20

13

2005

23

36

20-21

8

2006

26

42

16

13

2007

28

47

31

11 (8)

2008

35

61

52

21 (14)

2009

39

73

67

7 (5)

2010

41

69

64

11 (6)

2011

46

82

74

29 (12)

2012

51

90

68

35 (27)

2013

53

85

83

13 (8)

2014

56

96

84

40 (20)

2015

57

96

95

16 (8)

2016

Reduction in study area covered: Because of the increasing population, the study area is reduced in size with the elimination of lower South Tyne and Tipalt/Irthing. These areas were responsible in 2015 for 13 sites, 17 adult (11 male, 6 female),12 sites occupied at fledging of 18+ juveniles (6x2, 4x1+, 2x0+) with 1 further site failing (1x0), 2 migrants.

2015 restated for reduced study area

44

79

77

14 (8)

2016

49

74

83

39 (22)

Table 1: Numbers of Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland from 1993-2016 (Revised figures, after review, marked by *)

See also Honey-buzzard densities in Britain including Northumberland in 2001.

A more detailed summary is presented in Table 2 from the second full season (2005) with the benefit of the disturbance permit from English Nature. The study area is large comprising 16,600 hectare in the south west of the county.

Area

Number sites

No. nests

found

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Hexhamshire (Devil’s Water)

5

3

5

0

0

5

Allen

5

1

3

0

2

3-4

South Tyne

7

1

4

1

2

7

Tyne

5

1

4

0

1

4

Derwent

1

0

1

0

0

1

Total

23

6

17

1

5

20-21

Table 2: Results for Honey-buzzards in SW Northumberland by area in 2005

A significant majority of the sites are in private woodland on shooting estates. This is indeed deeply ironic in view of the history of birds of prey in the county. Reasons suggested for the success in such areas are the tendency for timber to be grown on to maturity, the habitat mosaic with heather moors adjacent to meadows and woods and the quietness of the land. Last, but not least, losses to their main predator, the Goshawk, are likely to be low because of ample numbers of easier targets for the hawk, such as corvids and pigeons. The highest numbers are found on land owned by the Allendale, Featherstone and Whitfield Estates and the National Trust. 11 of the 23 sites are in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Eight types of call have now been analysed and related to behaviour and over five hours of video were taken this year during routine visits to the breeding sites.

In 2006 the survey of nest sites was intensified and ten nests were found. Five of these were in Norway Spruce Picea abies, two in Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, two in Common Oak Quercus robur and one in Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii. In Holland Norway Spruce was also a popular choice with 36.5 % of nests in this species compared to 33.7% in Douglas Fir, 15.4% in Scots Pine and 12.5% in Larch (Bijlsma et al 1993, p.72) . The results for 2006 are summarised in Table 3.

Area

Number sites

No. nests

found

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Hexhamshire (Devil’s Water)

6

3

5

0

1

5

Allen

6

2

4

1

1

4

South Tyne

7

2

5

2

0

5

Tyne

5

3

4

0

1

2

Derwent

2

0

0

1

1

0

Total

26

10

18

4

4

16

Table 3: Results for Honey-buzzards in SW Northumberland by area in 2006

The detailed results for 2007 are summarised in Table 4.

Area

No. sites

No. ad-ults

No. nests

found

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Hexhamshire (Devil’s Water)

6

12

3

6

0

0

6

Allen

6

9

2

5

0

1

7

Upper South Tyne

6

11

2

5

0

1

8

Lower South Tyne

2

3

0

2

0

0

3

Tyne

6

9

3

5

0

1

6

Derwent

2

3

0

1

1

0

1

Total

28

47

10

24

1

3

31

Table 4: Results for Honey-buzzards in SW Northumberland by area in 2007

In 2007 the survey of nest sites continued and ten nests were found. Four of these were in Norway Spruce Picea abies, three in Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, two in Common Oak Quercus robur and one in Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii.

Migrants are not included in the tables above. Table 5 shows the visible migration noted in 2007, together with comments on the overall picture.

Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Movement

28 Apr

13:20

Tyne Valley

Adult male

1

W up Tyne, into site

24 Aug

10:05

Tyne Valley

Adult male

1

To SE, exiting site (presumed same as on 28/4, stayed only 119 days or almost 4 months!)

4 Sept

11:40

lower South Tyne

Adult female

1

To SE, exiting site

20 Sept

11:50

Stocksfield (Tyne Valley)

Juvenile

1

To SW, exiting area

25 Sept

10:10

Stocksfield

Juvenile

2

To SE, exiting area

26 Sept

11:50

Stocksfield

Juvenile

1

To E, passing through

2 Oct

12:50

Corbridge (Tyne Valley)

Juvenile

1

To SE, passing though

5 Oct

11:10

Stocksfield

Juvenile

2

To E, moving out after stop

27 Oct

13:30

Eals (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

To S, bird with damaged right-wing

Summary/

Comments:






Apr: 1

Aug: 1

Sept: 5

Oct: 4

10-11: 3

11-12: 5

12-13: 1

13-14: 2


Tyne Valley: 9

lower South Tyne: 1

upper South Tyne: 1


Ad male: 2

Ad female: 1

Juvenile: 8

11


IN: 1 W

OUT: 5 SE, 3 E, 1 SW , 1 S

Most records are for migrating juveniles, hence late in season from 20/9-5/10 and even 27/10

Mid-morning is always a good time for aerial activity in this species

Tyne Valley was good this year, may vary from year to year with winds

Juveniles are weaker fliers, so more obvious

A fairly typical annual total

Birds tend to follow Tyne Valley, rather than go due S

Table 5: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2007


The detailed results for 2008 are summarised in Table 6.

Area

No. sites

No. ad-ults

No. nests

found

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

14

3

6

0

0

9 (3x2, 3x1+)

Allen

7

13

2

5

0

2

9 (4x2, 1x1)

Upper South Tyne

6

10

2

6

0

0

9 (3x2, 3x1+)

Lower South Tyne

2

3

0

2

0

0

4 (2x2)

Tyne

9

15

2

9

0

0

16 (7x2, 2x1+)

Derwent

5

6

0

3

0

2

5 (2x2, 1x1+)

Total

35

61

9

31

0

4

52 (21x2, 9x1+, 1x1)

Table 6: Results for Honey-buzzards in SW Northumberland by area in 2008

Overall the outcome for 2008 was of a very successful season, the weather perhaps turning wet too late in the season to affect productivity. However, the strain of rearing 2 young did seem to delay fledging with the first signs of fledging on 16th August and the first family party in the air seen on 22nd August. On 7th September two groups of 4 birds (adult male and female, 2 juveniles) were seen at 2 sites after the great floods on 6th September. So many birds were still on site at this stage. Juveniles continued to be seen in numbers through to 28th September when significant passage out of the area was observed.


The counting of fledged young was adjusted slightly this year: 2 juv indicates 2 juveniles raised; 1+ juv indicates that one juvenile seen but no family group was seen in the air so that there may have been another juvenile fledged; 1 juv indicates one juvenile seen in a soaring family group suggesting that no more young were raised.


More effort was put in fieldwork into the Derwent area where numbers of raptors are rising rapidly in response to a perceived drop in persecution levels. The eastern end of Tynedale around Prudhoe and Wylam was also studied more intensively than before. This perhaps added 5 extra confirmed sites in 2008 with 2-4 more to come in 2009 from a better understanding of these areas. Such areas are within the existing disturbance permit.


Productivity on existing sites was well up on previous years with 21 broods of 2, 9 of 1+ and only 1 of 1.


Survey effort was maintained throughout the season. In the 3 phases of display, nest/rear and fledge the number of sites at which the species was recorded was 33, 21 and 31 respectively. The dip in the middle is because of the greater secrecy of the species when nesting and with small young and the greater effort under the canopy in the middle phase with less opportunities for scanning.


In 2008 the survey of nest sites continued and nine nests were found. Four of these were in Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, two in Norway Spruce Picea abies, two in Common Oak Quercus robur and one in Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii.


Migrants are not included in the tables above. Table 7 shows the visible migration noted in 2008, together with comments on the overall picture.

Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Movement

11 May

11:25-12:35

Haltwhistle (upper South Tyne)

Adult male followed by adult female

2

To NE/N over Hadrian's Wall

15 June

11:18

Gilderdale (upper South Tyne)

Adult male/female

1

To N, very high up

13 Sept

11:38-13:17

Stocksfield (Tyne Valley)

Adult female

4

To SE, singles exiting area at 11:38 and 12:52; to E of two birds arriving from NW at 13:17 and passing through

28 Sept

11:30

Stocksfield

Juvenile

1

To S, exiting area

28 Sept

13:40-14:30

Kiln Pit Hill (Derwent)

Juvenile

11

To SE/S, one SE at 13:40, 3 SE at 14:00, 4 SE at 14:20 and 3 S at 14:30. All passing through.

11 Oct

11:40-12:05

Greymare Hill (Derwent)

Juvenile

2

To S/SW passing through

Summary/

Comments:






May: 2

June: 1

Sept: 16

Oct: 2

11-12: 5

12-13: 3

13-14: 6

14-15: 7


Derwent: 13

Tyne Valley: 5

Upper South Tyne: 3


Ad female: 5

Ad male: 1

Ad male/female: 1

Juvenile: 14

21


IN: 2 N, 1 NE

OUT: 10 SE, 5 S, 2 E, 1 SW

Most records are for migrating juveniles, hence late in season from 28/9-11/10; also significant exit of adults on 13/9

Mid-morning is always a good time for aerial activity in this species

Tyne Valley was again good this year; Kiln Pit Area looks very promising for further study

Juveniles are weaker fliers, so more obvious

A high annual total, boosted by counts in Derwent area

In autumn birds tend to follow Tyne Valley, rather than go due S; in spring birds have strong northerly orientation

Table 7: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2008


Table 8 below shows the visible migration noted in 2009, together with comments on the overall picture.

Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Movement

14 Sept

15:30

Warden (lower South Tyne)

Adult female

1

Drifting S under low cloud

17 Sept

13:15-13:25

March Burn (Tyne Valley)

Adult female

1

soaring to great height eventually flying around in base of grey cloud and disappearing to sight to SE

20 Sept

12:54

Barhaugh Hall

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

on migration, coming high from N, reaching bottom of glide near observer and then gliding a short way S before soaring very high to SE

26 Sept

11:45

Bywell

(Tyne Valley)

Juvenile

3

total 6 in funnel of which 3 went high into sun S as migrants and never seen again; 2 moved W at moderate altitude to feed and did not apparently migrate and one went back into regular wood; at 12:00 this weakest juvenile was still over this wood

15 Nov

10:40-10:45

Snope Burn

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

up over Eals Fell gliding around, then flew off S purposefully up the upper South Tyne valley

Summary/

Comments:






Sept: 6

Nov: 1

10-11: 1

11-12: 3

12-13: 1

13-14: 1

15-16: 1


Tyne Valley: 4

upper South Tyne: 2

lower south Tyne: 1


Ad female: 2

Juvenile: 5

7


IN: none

OUT: 5 S, 2 SE

Most records are for migrating juveniles, hence late in season from 14/9-26/9 with late record on 15/11

Mid-morning is always a good time for aerial activity in this species

Tyne Valley was again good this year; upper South Tyne is rewarding considering smaller amount of time spent there

Juveniles are weaker fliers, so more obvious

A much lower total than in 2008

In autumn birds tend to go S/SE

Table 8: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2009


The detailed results for the 2009 breeding season are given in Table 9.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

Nests found in

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

12

3

6

0

0

12 (6x2)

1 (6)

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Allen

7

14

2

7

0

0

13 (6x2, 1x1)

1 (5)

Norway Spruce, Oak

Upper South Tyne

6

12

2

6

0

0

10 (4x2, 2x1+)

1 (6)

Norway Spruce, Birch

Lower South Tyne

3

6

0

3

0

0

6 (3x2)

0


Tyne

11

17

3

9

0

2

16 (7x2, 2x1+)

1 (6)

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Derwent

6

12

0

6

0

0

10 (4x2, 2x1+)

0


Total

39

73

10

37

0

2

67 (30x2, 6x1+, 1x1)

4 (23)

Scots Pine (4), Norway Spruce (4), Oak, Birch

Table 9: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2009


It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland. All the main measures increased with 39 occupied sites, 37 confirmed breeding pairs and 67 young fledged. Productivity was very high with 30 of the 37 successful sites raising 2 young; at 6 of the other 7 sites it is also possible that 2 young were raised but evidence was lacking for any more than one juvenile raised. Additional sites were found in 3 areas: Tyne Valley (2), lower South Tyne (1) and Derwent (1).

Fieldwork was performed continuously in the study area from end April – late September, except for the following absences in other parts of England, Isle of Man and Scotland: 16-19 May, Norfolk; 23-30 May, Isle of Man; 12 June, North Yorkshire; 17-22 July, Devon; 29-31 August, North Yorkshire; 30 September–3 October, Perthshire, Scotland.

Coverage was similar to previous years except in September when retirement from university on 31 August meant that more time could be put in to determine breeding success with more certainty. This extra time may have contributed to the higher figures for breeding success this year but of course the higher figures from better coverage will be a more accurate portrayal of the underlying picture. The extra time was also used to monitor more closely the gangs of post-breeding juveniles which form after the adults have left. Four such gangs were found this year, comprising 23 juveniles in total. Monitoring migration is more of an opportunistic activity than a serious vismig study. This year only 7 migrants were noted at 5 sites.

Some sites were colonised early in May but the main arrival was later. The season seemed to start on time but fledging was late with many birds not rising above the canopy until early September. The weather was fine in May but for the rest of the breeding season was wet with some very heavy downpours at times. The poor summer weather may have delayed fledging but has not affected breeding success. Another factor in delaying fledging may have been the high productivity itself with 2 young raised in nearly every nest stretching the adults' foraging ability.

In the target area 10 sites were searched for nests with 100% success this year. Scots Pine and Norway Spruce are the most popular trees with others in Oak and Birch. Nests are much easier to find in Scots Pine than in Norway Spruce because of the structure of the crowns of the trees with Scots Pine being open and Norway Spruce closed. This year a series of photographs was taken from the ground of each nest in each site visit. Comparison of the photographs between visits showed a clean nest and an expansion of the structure between June/early July and late July/August confirming that the nest was in use. This comparison supports the nests being assigned to Honey-buzzard as a species because it is exactly what would be expected with a tidy late nesting species. Common Buzzard nests always appear very much more used near fledging in early July and are indeed already starting to decline in structure at this point.

Next season the plan is similar except that the number of nests to be found will be increased from 10 to 13. The populous Tyne Valley area is to be split into two: Tyne Valley west and Tyne Valley east. There will then be 3 areas in which no nest has been located: Derwent, lower South Tyne and Tyne Valley east. The intention is to find a nest in each of these 3 areas. Work in winter of 2009/2010 is involving looking for old nests of Honey-buzzard in these areas and last year's nest has already been found in Tyne Valley east. Besides the size of the current Tyne Valley area, another reason for the split is the difference in habitat with the eastern part being more built up and closer to the sea, both factors which warrant investigation as they might reduce breeding success on current knowledge.


The detailed results for the 2010 breeding season are given in Table 10.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

Nests found in

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

10

3

6

0

0

9 (3x2, 3x1+)

0

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Allen

8

14

2

8

0

0

13 (5x2, 2x1+, 1x1)

0

Norway Spruce, Oak

Upper South Tyne

6

10

2

6

0

0

8 (3x2, 2x1+, 1x0+)

0

Norway Spruce, Birch

Lower South Tyne

4

6

0

4

0

0

7 (3x2, 1x1+)

0


Tyne W

7

13

3

7

0

0

12 (5x2, 2x1+)

0

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Tyne E

4

7

1

4

0

0

6 (2x2, 1x1+, 1x1)

0

Scots Pine

Derwent

6

9

1

6

0

0

9 (3x2, 3x1+)

0

Scots Pine

Total

41

69

12

41

0

0

64 (24x2, 14x1+, 2x1)

0

Scots Pine (6), Norway Spruce (4), Oak, Birch

Table 10: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2010


Two additional sites were selected, one in Derwent, one in Tyne E, so that the target of having a visited nest-site within each area was almost achieved. Two visits were made to each of the twelve sites selected, the first from mid-June to mid-July and the second from mid- to late-August. After some experimentation over the years this timing appears to be optimal as it avoids disturbance when the birds are settling but is at an active point, egg hatching for first, young fledging for second, so that positive results can be obtained. An additional visit was made in late July to 2 sites where the signs were not conclusive on the first visit; these visits proved to be conclusive that breeding was taking place.


Some sites were colonised early in May but the main arrival was later. The season started on time and fledging occurred from mid-August. The weather was fine in May and early June but declined through July and August with increased dampness and wind but heavy downpours were largely avoided. September was windy but there were quite long spells of sunshine.


Fieldwork was performed continuously in the study area from end April – early October, except for the following absences in other parts of England and Scotland:

1-8 May, NW Scotland; 14-17 May, Devon; 5-9 June, Devon; 3-10 July, Dentdale, Yorkshire; 28 July-2 August, Devon; 8-12 August, Cambridge; 10-15 September, Devon; 19-20 September, Leicester; 3-6 October, Lake District, Cumbria.

It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 41 (39 in 2009) occupied sites and 41 (37) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity appeared to decline slightly with 64+ (67+) young fledged. Productivity was still very high with 24 of the 40 successful sites raising 2 young; 14 raising at least one young, 2 raising one young and one further site presumed successful but no young seen.

Survey effort was maintained throughout the season but the display observations were more truncated this year as mentioned above. In the 3 phases of display, nest/rear and fledge the number of sites at which the species was recorded was 31, 23 and 41 respectively. The dip in the middle is because of the greater secrecy of the species in the middle of the breeding cycle.


Next season the plan is similar except that the number of nests to be found will be increased from 12 to 13 with an additional nest to be found in the lower South Tyne where no nests are monitored at present. This is indeed the only area with no monitored nest.


Table 11 below shows the visible migration noted in 2010, together with comments on the overall picture.

Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Movement

August 25

11:40

Ordley (Devil's Water)

Adult male

1

Soared on and on effortlessly up into the clear blue sky and then drifting S

August 26

13:10


Dotland (Devil's Water)

Adult male

1

Came off a nearby wood and did not think it was going to emigrate as while it was very steady, it did several hangs looking down, but finally it soared on and on, eventually drifting off S. He's put on a lot of weight as usual in pre-emigration mode, perhaps losing half his weight by time he reaches the wintering grounds. These departures are done solo – no calls or interaction with the family below! Always think it's rather moving as they make the last turn and finally push off, passing through the base of the clouds: Africa here I come!

September 3

14:50


Bywell

(Tyne Valley W)

Adult male

1

He took off and very patiently soared on and on and then glided off high to SW. Once he's got going in a thermal he does not do a single wing flap for over 4 minutes

September 16

14:55

Barhaugh

(upper South Tyne)

Adult female

1

floating very high just under the cloud cover to S; certainly not a male as relatively heavy and presumed to be a female on flight ability; possibly a Scottish migrant

September 17

14:50

Dukeshagg

(Tyne Valley E)

Adult female

1

After lunch made Dukeshagg from 14:05-15:20, where waited 15 minutes for a female Honey-buzzard to emerge and fly high above the site. After a lot of encouragement, 2 quite weak-flying juveniles finally came out of the canopy and did some practice flying from 14:40-14:50 with the female still well-up. Satisfied with their progress the female then proceeded to leave, soaring on and on into the clouds and disappearing to the S

September 25

13:45

Slaggyford

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

anticipated the sunshine moving SW at moderate altitude; because of the moderate N wind behind, it periodically circled to keep control of its speed, finally disappearing over the Grey Nag. Birds are wary of being carried away in strong following winds.

September 25

15:30

Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

another found, first flying on the edge of the moor and then briefly lifting above the canopy, mobbed by a Raven. This bird was not advanced so doubt it was bred locally (as they were fledged a while ago) and consider it a migrant on a feeding break (resting). This site, the first colonised in the county, is very rich for the species and does support migrant birds deep into the autumn (twice into November).

October 2

14:35

Bywell

(Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

1

coming in at moderate height from the N over Newton and moving low-down into Short Wood, Bywell, presumably to rest and feed. Didn't see it again.

October 10

16:40

Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

arriving high from the N, greeted by a reception committee of 2 Jackdaw. Unperturbed it slowly turned and, losing height gradually, moved towards Lambley Viaduct. So think this is a Scottish bird which may have been held up by the poor visibility of the last few days but was now decisively moving S

October 23

12:45

West Dipton Burn

(Devil's Water)

Juvenile

1

mobile flying E at low altitude for c2km before coming down in woodland by the Devil's Water. The birds from here will have migrated long ago. So suspect this is yet another Scottish migrant from a late breeding attempt resting on passage.

October 30

15:20

Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

The bird soared to a moderate height but did not emigrate – thought to be a late-bred bird from Scotland resting on passage.

Summary/

Comments:






Aug: 2

Sept: 5

Oct: 4

11-12: 1

12-13: 1

13-14: 2

14-15: 4

15-16: 2

16-17: 1

upper South Tyne: 5

Devil's Water: 3

Tyne Valley W: 2

Tyne Valley E: 1


Ad male: 3

Ad female: 2

Juvenile: 6

11


IN: none

OUT: 6 S, 2 SW, 3 resting

Most records are for migrating juveniles, hence late in season from 25/9-30/10; but also 3 males 25/8-3/9 and 2 females 16/9-17/9

Most records this year in afternoon, particularly 14:00-15:00 but this may reflect observer activity

upper South Tyne was most rewarding this year; it does appear to be a popular route for Scottish-bred juveniles

Juveniles are weaker fliers, so more obvious

A typical total

In autumn birds went mainly S with 2 SW; this year 3 resting juveniles were found including 2 in upper South Tyne

Table 11: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2010


The detailed results for the 2011 breeding season are given in Table 12.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

Nests found in

Display

Rear

Fledge

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

12

3

6

4

6

6

0

0

10 (4x2, 1x1+, 1x1)

0

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Allen

9

15

2

7

3

9

9

0

0

12 (3x2, 5x1+, 1x1)

2x1

Norway Spruce, Oak

Upper South Tyne

5

10

2

5

2

5

5

0

0

9 (4x2, 1x1+)

0

Norway Spruce, Oak

Lower South Tyne

5

9

1

4

1

5

5

0

0

8 (3x2, 1x1+, 1x1)

0

Scots Pine

Tipalt

3

4

0

3

1

3

3

0

0

4 (1x2, 2x1+)

0


Tyne W

7

13

3

7

3

7

7

0

0

12 (5x2, 2x1)

1x3

Scots Pine (2), Norway Spruce

Tyne E

4

7

1

4

1

4

4

0

0

6 (2x2, 2x1)

0

Scots Pine

Derwent

7

12

1

7

1

7

7

0

0

13 (6x2, 1x1+)

1x4

Scots Pine

Total

46

82

13

43

16

46

46

0

0

74 (28x2, 11x1+, 7x1)

4 (1x4, 1x3, 2 x1)

Scots Pine (7), Norway Spruce (4), Oak (2)

Table 12: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2011


Table 13 below shows the visible migration noted in 2011, together with comments on the overall picture.

Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Movement

May 9

14:05

West Dipton (Devil's Water)

Adult male

1

Even more remarkable was another male appearing high overhead above him at 14:05, so high that I'd never have picked him out unless I'd had the camcorder focused on the high clouds. He disappeared off to the N so think he was a migrant, interested in territory below and its occupying male, but quickly passing on to his own territory.

September 1

13:10


Shilford (Tyne Valley W)

Adult male

1

First Honey-buzzard was a male up over Shilford at 11:50, soaring very high and shortly disappearing to S so thought to be on his way to Africa.

September 15

10:45-13:05


Dipton Wood (Devil's Water)

Adult male 4

Adult female 2

Adult (gender not known): 7

13

13 birds, all adult, seen leaving the Devil's Water, including a kettle of 7 birds from 11:59-12:02 over Dipton Wood, an amazing sight, other than 2 birds doing a brief swoop the atmosphere is serious as normal for migrating birds; 12 of the birds moved S and 1 SE. Movement coincided with very rapid exodus of Swallow over previous 24 hours. The 1st fine day after a spell of 10 days of very windy weather. Others:11:27 male from West Dipton has another go, impatiently flapping at lower levels, then effortless soar, this time going higher, out of sight and off (trial soars are not uncommon); 11:47 male soars to moderate height at Viewley, then moves into solid flapping mode and moves off SE at speed;12:25-12:29 female appears flapping hard to S, then soars over Swallowship, before drifting N and meeting 2 males, who all depart together to S, males presumed as from Swallowship (her mate) and Farnley; 12:45-12:50 female soaring over W of Farnley at long range, going very high above clouds, lost to sight and presumed to leave.

September 15

18:00

Parson Shields (upper South Tyne)

Adult female

1

A female flew S low-down at Parson Shields, upper South Tyne, not a known nest site, and came to rest in trees near the South Tyne. She may well have been a Scottish bird, perhaps making her 1st stop on migration from say the Tay Valley.

September 17

13:50:00

Minsteracres (Derwent)

Adult female

1

Some dramatic action with the presumed female Honey-buzzard of the site soaring and then flapping very fast in a straight line to intercept another female Honey-buzzard, presumably a migrant (maybe a migrant from Scotland in the 15/9 movement). There's a bit of a skirmish with the presumed migrant drifting off to the E and the incumbent to the W. The migrant was where her young were just 10 minutes before but they had moved to the W and she moves off in this direction.

September 29

13:20:00

Bywell

(Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

2

Yesterday noted that the 3 Honey-buzzard at 13:20 reduced to one later on; suspect that 2 of the juveniles actually left while I was in the area. It did appear that the 2 birds were 'paired' while the 3rd bird was more on its own.

October 10

15:20:00

Stocksfield

(Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

1

Had inklings a Honey-buzzard was in the area with very nervous feeding corvid flock, an irate Grey Heron flying off from Tyne, and a brief glimpse of a soaring raptor over Shilford, mobbed by a Jackdaw, which looked just the part. At 15:12 a juvenile Honey-buzzard, mobbed by corvids, took off from the Tyne near Bywell Castle and in next 11 minutes, gave some of best views of the species for the year. Slowly gaining moderate height it flapped SE over to the Guessburn, where it turned at 15:17 and unbelievably came back towards me, stalling when over me and finally slowly and reluctantly making its way SE again into the distance, disappearing at 15:23.

October 11

12:50-14:25

Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

4

4 juveniles feeding in area identified from clips: bird A, heavy, missing secondary on right-wing, from 12:53-12:55, this bird is very similar in structure and plumage to the one at Harwood Shield on 1/11; bird B with the ragged wing, missing P4 on right wing, this bird was very visible, being up for about 15 minutes in all from 13:02-14:21; bird C was slim and full-winged, visible for 2 bursts of activity around 13:46 and 14:20; bird D was even slimmer, noted only once from 14:20-14:21, appearing while recording bird C.

October 15

15:50:00

North Wood, Haltwhistle (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

The Honey-buzzard juvenile came flapping in low-down from the N, clearly looking for a B&B. A local Common Buzzard got up to intercept it but backed off from any interaction once it realised it was no threat. The Honey-buzzard certainly looked tired and came down finally on the S end of North Wood, close to a Honey-buzzard site, which had been active earlier in the season. These older juveniles show structural features closer to those of adults with fuller wingtips, longer tails and more obvious longer necks. By time they get going on migration, these older birds should be readily identifiable.

October 16

14:47:00

Parson Shields (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

Main walk was at Parson Shields where had the 1st Honey-buzzard moving S along the ridge on E side of valley at 14:47, riding the updraught from the W breeze. Not as close as the Towsbank bird but shape and structure very clear. This bird covered about 1km in 1 minute 17 seconds so a little slower at 41 kph.

October 16

15:28:00

Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

The 2nd Honey-buzzard was moving S just after arrival at Towsbank, to the N of Parson Shields, at 15:28. It came right overhead after approaching from the N, then drifted off to S, where a brief interception was attempted by a Common Buzzard. Could time this bird: it covered 2.5km in the 2 minutes 27 seconds it was on the video, so roughly 60 kph (38 mph), with hardly a flap! It was also using the updraught from the W breeze on the E side of the valley to maximum effect.

October 22

15:00:00

Eals

(upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

a juvenile, seen up 4 times above the canopy in a style really reminiscent of their behaviour in South Africa with fairly frequent short low-level forays above the canopy in between feeds on the ground. Many Woodpigeon, presumably feeding on acorns in the oak/birch wood, are flushed by the Honey-buzzard in its first recorded flight. From feather damage, with at least 2 feathers missing in P1 area on its left wing, have a good idea this is a new bird, not one in long term rest-mode!

November 1

13:45:00

Harwood Shield (Devil's Water)

Juvenile

1

juvenile Honey-buzzard up over a conifer plantation for 5 minutes, without a real flap, from 13:45-13:50. The juvenile floated around for a while, including a dive, and then soared high before skittishly flying off S. As not seen again, suspect it was on migration but care-free behaviour suggested it was not going too far!

Summary/

Comments:






May: 1

Sept: 18

Oct: 9

Nov: 1

11-12: 2

12-13: 11

13-14: 4

14-15: 2

15-16: 3

16-17: 1

upper South Tyne: 9

Devil's Water: 15

Tyne Valley W: 4

Derwent: 1


Adult male: 6

Adult female: 4

Adult (gender not known): 7

Juvenile: 12

29


IN: 1 N

OUT: 17 S, 3 SE, 6 resting, 2 direction unknown

Most records are for migrating adults this year, hence peak in mid-September with move delayed by bad weather earlier in month; juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, continue to move through October

Most records at height of day in GMT terms (12-13 BST), many birds move through afternoon

Birds at Devils Water in autumn, bar 1, were local breeders exiting; upper South Tyne appears to be a popular route for Scottish-bred juveniles; Tyne Valley W is another popular route for birds bypassing the Pennines

Unusual this year in that most records are of adults


A high total with pent-up adult movement on 15/9 and notable movement through upper south Tyne of juveniles in October

In autumn birds went mainly S with 17 in this direction and 3 SE; this year 6 resting birds were found, an adult in Derwent in September and 5 juveniles in October in upper South Tyne. Direction unknown refers to 2 birds having clearly left but their final trajectory was not followed.

Table 13: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2011


Some sites were colonised early in May, or even in late April but the main arrival was later. The season started on time and fledging occurred from mid-August. The weather was fine in May and early June but declined through late June, July and August with increased dampness and wind but heavy downpours were largely avoided. September was windy, particularly in ten days before mid-month with the passage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from 12/9-14/9 but as usual there were quite long spells of sunshine. Fieldwork was performed continuously in the study area from end April – early November, except for the following absences in other parts of England and Scotland: 22-26 May, Devon; 16-22 July, north Wales; 26 July-3 August, Tuscany, Italy; 7-14 August, Liège, Belgium; 4-5 September, London; 18-22 September, Lake District, England. The rather lengthy absences from 16 July-14 August did not significantly affect fieldwork as for the most part this is the quiet rearing part of the breeding cycle. It would have made studying the fledging easier though if the final visit had finished say around the 10 August. Compiling the results was delayed by a long-running broadband connection problem with BT from 5 August-23 September.

As shown in Table 12, it was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 46 (41 in 2010) occupied sites and 46 (41) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity increased slightly with 74+ (64+) young fledged. Productivity was high in absolute terms with 28 of the 46 successful sites raising 2 young; 11 raising at least one young and 7 raising one young. Although the number of pairs increased, the breeding density was maintained with no infilling. The increase in pairs occurred because of 1) the addition of a new area Tipalt on the extreme west of the study area (+2 sites); 2) the species started moving towards the Roman Wall in the lower South Tyne with a site on the north side of the lower South Tyne (+ 1 site); 3) the species moved to higher altitude in the East Allen (Allen), reaching 460m asl, and in the Beldon Burn (Derwent), reaching 380m asl (+2 sites).

Survey effort was maintained throughout the season. In the 3 phases of display, nest/rear and fledge the number of sites at which the species was recorded was 43, 16 and 46 respectively. The dip in the middle is because of absences elsewhere and the greater secrecy of the species in the middle of the breeding cycle. The display period was covered better than in 2010.

Gangs of juveniles, defined as gatherings of presumed local birds post-fledging, feeding-up prior to migration, comprised 4 juveniles in Derwent on high moors on 28/9, 3 in Tyne Valley W on 29/9, reducing to 1 on 30/9, and, in Allen, on high moors, 1 on 1/10 and 1 on 4/10. Total is 4 gangs from 28/9-4/10 totalling 9 juveniles.

A full report of the Honey-buzzard season in SW Northumberland in 2011 can be found here.

The detailed results for the 2012 breeding season are given in Table 14. It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 51 (46 in 2011) occupied sites and 50 (46) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity reduced slightly with 68+ (74+) young fledged. Productivity was still high in absolute terms with 18 of the 50 successful sites raising 2 young; 18 raising at least one young and 14 raising one young. This suggests that in good habitat, Honey-buzzard are largely unaffected in their breeding success by very poor weather.


This year the breeding density increased as all new pairs resulted from infilling: in lower South Tyne (+2): Langley, Haughstrother W; in upper South Tyne (+1): Featherstone Castle; in Tyne Valley E (1): Whittle Burn; in Derwent (+1): Slaley Forest Trygill. A determined effort in fieldwork was made this year in all unoccupied suitable areas permitted within the 2.5 km inter-nest spacing. The sites are not necessarily new for Honey-buzzard, just for my survey. The increase of 10% in sites found suggests that even in a continually monitored area, pairs may go undetected.


Survey effort was maintained throughout the season. In the 4 phases of display, sit/rear, fledge and post-nuptial, the number of sites at which the species was recorded was 43, 23, 35 and 25 respectively. The dip in the sit/rear stage is because of the greater secrecy of the species when incubating and rearing the young. The display period was again covered well. No gangs of juveniles were seen this year.


In the target area in 2012 13 sites were searched for nests with 100% success this year. Scots Pine (7 nests) is now clearly the most popular trees with Norway Spruce (3), Oak (2) and Douglas Fir (1) the only other type employed. Nests are much easier to find in Scots Pine and Oak than in Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir because of the structure of the crowns of the trees with for instance Scots Pine being open and Norway Spruce closed.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Trees used for Nesting

Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge

Post-nuptial

Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

12

3

5

5

5

2

6

0

0

7 (1x2, 3x1+, 2x1)

Scots Pine x2, Norway Spruce

Allen

9

16

2

7

4

6

3

9

0

0

13 (4x2, 2x1+, 3x1)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Upper South Tyne

6

11

2

6

2

6

2

6

0

0

9 (3x2, 3x1+)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Lower South Tyne

7

10

1

7

1

5

3

6

0

1

8 (2x2, 3x1+, 1x1, 1x0)

Scots Pine

Tipalt

3

6

0

2

1

0

3

3

0

0

4 (1x2, 2x1+)


Tyne W

7

14

3

7

5

6

5

7

0

0

9 (2x2, 2x1+, 3x1)

Scots Pine x2, Douglas Fir

Tyne E

5

7

1

4

2

5

0

5

0

0

6 (1x2, 1x1+, 3x1)

Scots Pine

Derwent

8

14

1

5

3

2

7

8

0

0

12 (4x2, 2x1+, 2x1)

Scots Pine

Total

51

90

13

43

23

35

25

50

0

1

68 (18x2, 18x1+, 14x1, 1x0)

Scots Pine x7, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir

Table 14: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2012


Record-breaking migration of Honey-buzzard was an outstanding feature of 2012. None were recorded in spring but the autumn total reached 35 the highest to date, indicating rising numbers in general and high productivity in northern Britain. Details are shown in Table 15. Weather for observations was poor except for the end of May. In autumn the activity noted included 24 birds going S/SW, hence over North Pennines, and 6 SE. Five resting birds were found so grand total was 35 birds, comprising 27 juvenile, 7 adult male, 1 adult female. With most records for migrating juveniles this year, the peak was in October with juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, moving through in numbers. As many as 23 birds were noted in October, with 10 in September and only 2 in August. The 2 popular routes of upper South Tyne and Tyne Valley W were again evident. The latter may appear to move SE but close examination this year shows they depart from Bywell through Derwent at Greymare Hill so skirt the E edge of the North Pennines.

Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Direction

Movement

 August 22

15:57

Staward N (Allen)

Adult male

1

1 S

Finally at 15:57 yet more action, with male up again this time with female, and doing a muted display over site with rises and falls but without butterfly action at top of rise; the birds come very close together in touching farewell and the male starts moving S, gliding fast overhead before being lost in the sun. Always nice when speck in the distance is 100% confirmed when bird comes much closer! Think the male was actually emigrating, starting journey back to Africa, after seeing young gain confidence in air and making space for the brood in terms of food resources (good strategy!).

 August 26

12:28-12:31

Bywell Cottagebank (Tyne Valley W)

Adult male

1

1 SE

the male was up floating over area from 12:28-12:31, moving SE at altitude and was presumed to leave-

 September 1

15:35-15:40


Towsbank (upper South Tyne)

Adult male 1

1

1 S

From 15:35-15:40 another male Honey-buzzard, a presumed migrant from Scotland, was gliding to S at moderate height on E side of valley using orographic lift on the moderate W breeze in the sunshine; he was actually intercepted by the resident local pair, who shielded their site from the intruder: keep away you forker!! Suspect he was tired and looking for somewhere for half-board: he moved on towards the higher end of the upper South Tyne where he should find the natives more amenable! The migrant male when first seen by me had local male getting ready to intercept; the intruder was obviously seen much earlier by the resident pair; the migrant moved S trying to give the area a miss but was intercepted and chased off by the local male; the local male celebrated his success in seeing him off

 September 9

12:20

Beaufront (Tyne Valley W)

Adult male

1

1 S

at 12:20 a male Honey-buzzard was spotted very high-up moving S and quickly lost in haze; not sure whether it was the local male or one from further N but definitely a migrant

 September 17

13:13:00

Bardon Mill E (lower South Tyne)

Adult male

1

1 SW

The1st Honey-buzzard of day was a male migrating SW at 13:13 over Bardon Mill, taking advantage of orographic lift in the fresh breeze, with a bounce in the end over Ridley. There were no thermals today for soar-glide.

 September 21

16:40:00

Langley (lower South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

1 SW

had a juvenile Honey-buzzard soaring high over Langley at 16:40 and moving SW; this is a new site this year so very good to see them fledge young; confirms pull-out is taking place, a trend which may be accelerated tomorrow after forecast ground frost tonight

 September 22

11:44-13:45

Allen

Adult male 1

Adult female 1

Juvenile 4

6

5 S

1 SW

Weather was beautiful with almost continuous bright sunshine, incredible visibility and wind light and variable. In more detail, action started at 11:44 with 3 juvenile Honey-buzzard coming out of the Allen valley from the Staward area, disappearing into thin grey cloud, taking about 8 minutes to get out of sight; count here matches 3 young raised in this area (2 Staward N, 1 Staward S). At 12:40 another juvenile Honey-buzzard came out of the Allen valley, from the Ridley area, matching the one young raised at this site. All the juveniles appeared to be moving S at high altitude; these fledged around 20/8 so, after one month of getting their strength up, are now ready for the journey to Africa. From 13:40-13:44 the female Honey-buzzard at this site decided to leave, soaring rapidly as usual into the base of a grey cloud (where thermals are strongest) and moving off S, high-up; she must have thought the young could now fend for themselves. The next site to visit was the highest known on the West Allen at Parmently, but from Monk at 13:45, before could get there, saw the male moving rapidly SW into the dark grey clouds; he gained height incredibly quickly before moving off on the edge of the clouds

 October 7

13:43-15:00

Stocksfield Guessburn (Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

6

3 SE

2 SW

1 rest

made Stocksfield Mount from 13:05-15:50 looking for migrant Honey-buzzard; impressed with big pull-out as 6 juveniles noted, all coming over hill above Bywell Cottagebank and either moving SE or SW at considerable height: 1 flapping hard to SE at 13:43 then soaring very high over S side of valley S of Mickley before moving on; 2 moving very high off N side of valley at Bywell at 13:46 before moving off high to SW; 1 moving SE quickly at moderate altitude at 14:03; 2 moving high to SE at 15:00 of which one carried on SE and the other came flapping back to Bywell, presumably to rest and feed for the night

 October 8

15:15-15:35

North Wood, Haltwhistle (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

2

2 S

Today, in continuation of fine autumn spell with all-day sunshine after early frost, in the afternoon made Haltwhistle North Wood from 14:50-16:50 where had 2 juvenile Honey-buzzard, presumed Scottish, feeding up in area, before setting off high into the sky and S from 15:15-15:35; one typical juvenile flight call was heard. Seen were 2 juveniles floating up slowly without a wingbeat, escorted by a flock of Jackdaw; one juvenile disappears, the other flies high then quickly comes back to their base in a wood; then at 15:18 one bird came out of the wood in which they had been feeding and did a circuit before returning; at 15:26 the 2nd bird again slowly ascended and this time it appeared to depart to S

 October 10

13:20-16:05

Towsbank (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

2

2 rest

good trip out to Eals in upper South Tyne from 13:20-16:05 in sunny, mild weather on light SW breeze. As expected saw more Honey-buzzard: 2 juveniles up together, one of which was tracked down to a field grazed by sheep and photographed at close range, calling in flight. These birds are also presumed to be Scottish-bred migrants: local birds will have left some time ago. Towsbank is an incredible magnet for Honey-buzzard: combination of moorland, deciduous woodland, river and rough sheep pastures seems to be ideal

 October 11

11:30:00

Prospect Hill (Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

1

1 SE

a juvenile Honey-buzzard flapping slowly SE at Prospect Hill at 11:30, mobbed by quite a few corvids, as drove towards Corbridge Station. These juveniles will of course not have made the journey before; I'm sure they linger through Northumberland and Durham as the habitat is so ideal in these 2 counties; further S will be a bit more of a shock as the agriculture intensifies and the population density (of people) increases

 October 13

15:00:00

Greymare Hill (Derwent)

Adult male 1

Juvenile 1

2

2 S

The two birds came through together around 15:30-15:40, comprising a juvenile and an adult male; the male presumably is from a high moorland site in Scotland where finish very late as at Riddlehamhope. The 2 birds were gaining height over the ridge, the juvenile was lost to sight after an attack by a Carrion Crow caused it to go ever higher but the male glided S high above the wind farm, roughly in line for Castleside. The Honey-buzzard seen today would have passed over Bywell: Greymare Hill is almost exactly S of Bywell by 8km. The Scottish population must be increasing rapidly, given the number of juveniles seen in the last 2 Octobers

 October 15

14:55:00

Barrasford (North Tyne)

Juvenile

1

1 rest

Today made Barrasford, 11km to NNW of Hexham, on North Tyne from 14:45-16:00 in beautiful sunny weather with light SW breeze. Took all of 10 minutes to locate a juvenile Honey-buzzard, involved in a massive stand-off with Rook and Jackdaw at 14:55 in the trees around Haughton Castle, which is suitable breeding habitat. It was up for a few seconds before disappearing below the canopy again. Plenty of other good habitat in the area, including out to NE at The Hermitage, but suspect that this bird was a Scottish-bred migrant as birds reared in the lush lower reaches of the North Tyne will have left a long time ago

 October 18

12:40:00

Haydon Bridge (lower South Tyne)

Juvenile

1

1 SE

Weather was sunny on trip out on SW wind and had a juvenile Honey-buzzard gliding high to SE near Haydon Bridge at 12:40 with a Common Buzzard way below trying to fend it off – quite a common scenario

 October 20

14:25-16:05

Towsbank (upper South Tyne)

Juvenile

7

6 SW

1 S

The 1st Honey-buzzard was up at 14:25, joined by a 2nd at 14:32 floating together; various further sightings were made over the next 50 minutes and it was going to be difficult to get an accurate total; then at 15:30 6 birds got up in the air together, 3 very high-up and 3 at moderate height, and proceeded to glide off slowly SW to disappear completely from sight. Meanwhile at 15:20 another bird had arrived from the N over Lambley Bridge and was presumably the bird left at the end on its own, last seen at 16:05. So Towsbank is a bit like a café, a place to stop and refresh, for Scottish-bred Honey-buzzard. So 6 SW, 1 rest

 October 25

12:57:00

Shilford (Tyne Valley W)

Juvenile

1

1 rest

Down to Stocksfield Mount from 12:05-14:05 in mainly cloudy, cool conditions on light N wind with just a few brief sunny intervals near the end; good enough to check for Honey-buzzard juveniles which are typically active unless weather really bad! On passing woods E of Shilford had what looked like a Honey-buzzard juvenile being harassed by 2 Common Buzzard but nowhere to stop so drove on and hoped the action would move my way. Had to wait a while but at 12:57 a juvenile Honey-buzzard came over Broomley Woods low-down flying E on what looked like a feeding trip and continued over the Guessburn still at low altitude

Summary/

Comments:







Aug: 2

Sept: 10

Oct: 23


11-12: 4

12-13: 4

13-14: 6

14-15: 1

15-16: 14

16-17: 1

rest 5

upper South Tyne: 12

lower South Tyne: 3

Allen: 7

Tyne Valley W: 10

Derwent: 2

North Tyne: 1


Adult male: 7

Adult female: 1

Juvenile: 27

35



IN: 0

OUT: 13 S, 11 SW, 6 SE, 5 resting

Most records are for migrating juveniles this year, hence peak in October with juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, moving through in numbers

Much more activity this year in late afternoon, when in October many juveniles moving through from Scotland, decide to continue their journey

The 2 popular routes of upper South Tyne and Tyne Valley W were again evident. The latter continue from Bywell through Derwent at Greymare Hill. The Allen birds were all locals exiting from breeding areas

Adult males predominate early-on, followed by adult females and finally by juveniles moving slowly through. May have missed this year the main move of females towards end of September


A record total indicating rising numbers in general and high productivity in northern Britain


No spring records this year; weather for observations was poor except for the end of May. In autumn birds went mainly S/SW with 24 in this direction and 6 SE; 5 resting birds were found, all juveniles in October

Table 15: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2012


For full details of the 2012 season see the study area Report 2012 with hyperlinked Appendix containing all field observations.


The detailed results for the 2013 breeding season are given in Table 16. It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 53 (51 in 2012) occupied sites and 53 (50) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity was high with every pair being successful and a record with 83+ (68+) young fledged. Productivity was high in absolute terms with 30 of the 53 successful sites raising 2 young; 20 raising at least one young and 3 raising one young. The weather was very poor in May for the display season which made observation difficult and reduced visibility, hence birds were only noted in 35 sites at this time. Warm weather at the rearing stage made perhaps the birds a little more visible at this stage with positive observations from 28 sites. As usual the birds were very visible in the fledging period with observations from 52 out of 53 sites. The result is a testimony to the near ideal habitat that SW Northumberland offers Honey-buzzard.


This year the breeding density increased as one new pair resulted from infilling in the lower South Tyne where 3 pairs (+1) were found in the vicinity of Haydon Bridge. The other new pair, in Tyne Valley E, was an extension to the E towards Newcastle Airport. The new site is 10.5 km from Tyne Bridge and 2.5 km from W edge of North Walbottle, where the solid conurbation of Tyneside begins. There is still scope for Honey-buzzard breeding at Ryton, Woolsington and Gosforth Park! As usual the sites are not necessarily new for Honey-buzzard, just for my survey.


Survey effort was maintained throughout the season but there were 2 absences in June of about a week each and another in May of 10 days. These may have had an additional effect on the poor return for the display period.


In the target area in 2013 12 sites were observed for nests with 100% success this year; the lower South Tyne site with nest in Scots Pine was dropped for logistical reasons.. Scots Pine (5 nests) remains the most popular trees with Norway Spruce (4) close behind and Oak (2) and Douglas Fir (1) the only other type employed. Nests are much easier to find in Scots Pine and Oak than in Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir because of the structure of the crowns of the trees with for instance Scots Pine being open and Norway Spruce closed.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied (no. sites)

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Trees used for Nesting

Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge


Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

10

3

6

3

6


6

0

0

8 (2x2, 4x1+)

Scots Pine x2, Norway Spruce

Allen

9

15

2

3

5

9


9

0

0

14 (5x2, 4x1+)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Upper South Tyne

6

10

2

4

4

6


6

0

0

10 (4x2, 1x1+, 1x1)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Lower South Tyne

8

11

0

6

2

8


8

0

0

11 (3x2, 4x1+, 1x1)


Tipalt

3

4

0

1

1

3


3

0

0

5 (2x2, 1x1+)


Tyne W

7

14

3

7

4

7


7

0

0

14 (7x2)

Scots Pine, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce

Tyne E

6

8

1

5

2

5


6

0

0

8 (2x2, 3x1+, 1x1)

Scots Pine

Derwent

8

13

1

2

7

8


8

0

0

13 (5x2, 3x1+)

Scots Pine

Total

53

85

12

34

28

52


53

0

0

83 (30x2, 20x1+, 3x1)

Scots Pine x5, Norway Spruce x4, Oak x2, Douglas Fir

Table 16: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2013


As shown in Table 17 It was a much quieter year for observed migration than in 2012 with just 13 obvious migrants observed in 2013 against 35 in 2012. Part of the problem is that so many birds are now seen throughout the breeding season that it is difficult to be sure of the origin of a bird seen at this time so genuine migrants may occasionally be marked down as a bird in territory. As in 2012 migrants were fairly reliable along the upper South Tyne valley, particularly in the Eals area, and in the Tyne Valley W area, particularly around Bywell. Direction of travel was basically N in spring and S in autumn. As many as 5/8 autumn birds, all juveniles, were resting, that is not pursuing active emigration.


Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Direction

Movement

-April 30

15:13:00

Staward N (Allen)

Adult male

1

1 NE

at 15:13 male Honey-buzzard noted overhead in typical power-glide mode, moving NE at speed. He came down to near the ground and then in distance began soaring again to do another soar-glide cycle. He will have crossed the South Tyne at Haydon Bridge. Presumably heading for Scotland.

-May 2

15:53-15:54

Corbridge

Adult female, adult male

2

2 N

At 15:53 a female Honey-buzzard was soaring over Corbridge, steadily moving N, gaining height and joined by a male Honey-buzzard at 15:54. They disappeared into the distance, perhaps to follow the A68 to the W of Edinburgh and then the M9 to Perth, over the next day or two. When first seen, think the female was at the end of a power glide and about to start the soaring phase. In May the sunshine is a lot stronger than in September, giving more thermals and favouring soar-glide over orographic (ridge) lift.

-May 4

15:30-15:45

 

Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K)

Adult male, adult female

2

1 W, 1 NW

Action started at 15:30 when a male appeared flapping hard against the breeze, initially on the Bywell side but moving SW to go over Shilford and carry on W; definitely a migrant, perhaps going to a site further up the Tyne or one further to W/NW (Lakes, Galloway). Finally at 15:45 near Farnley noted a Honey-buzzard female (not the male noted on 2/5) lifting off quickly and adopting a territorial pose; soon after another female came from the SE over Guessburn and flew powerfully NW over to the N bank of the Tyne at Styford to avoid the Farnley female; she carried on to NW so presume she's going further N but she's not on the A68.

-October 5

12:42:00

Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K)

Juvenile

1

1 SE

The Honey-buzzard juvenile rose up from the Tyne at 12:42, climbed a little and flew almost overhead SE to New Ridley; they don't normally continue SE but aim for Kiln Pit Hill, 7 km S of Bywell; the bird is presumed to have been feeding up by Bywell Castle; got some good video and stills!

-October 8

14:20-16:10

Towsbank S/ W Asholme Common (NY65 Y)

2 Juvenile

2

2 rest

On arrival a pale juvenile Honey-buzzard was floating over the wood, not that mature and not one of the birds fledged earlier at the site, which were darker. It was readily photographed from 14:20-14:30! It had damage to P7/P8 on its left wing with one feather missing and the other pushed up vertically. This could be damage due to being shot at, but suspect it's a Scottish bird, which has blundered into a tree or wall, maybe after a wee dram or too many berries! A very rapid learning process is required to get away on migration with the late fledging of some birds. A steady stream of raptors floated over the wood in the next 2 hours, involving another, darker, intact Honey-buzzard juvenile from 15:55-16:10, also thought to be a migrant; both the pale and dark Honey-buzzard were up at 15:58; all needs to be checked against the 96 stills taken. Yes, on review, there was definitely a second Honey-buzzard juvenile, both migrants, as different plumage from birds reared here.

-October 13

11:34:00

Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K)

Juvenile

1

1 rest

As in last visit, at 11:34 great panic in the vicinity of the Tyne below the Mount with Woodpigeon going all over the place and Carrion Crow and Jackdaw circling higher calling angrily. Yes it was another juvenile Honey-buzzard, a ruddy one seen flying low-down through the tops of the trees slightly to the E, giving one call (recorded).

-October 15

15:37:00

Towsbank S/ W Asholme Common (NY65 Y)

Juvenile

1

1 SW

The Honey-buzzard was a dark juvenile, moving out towards the moors to the W of Towsbank at 15:37 and then turning SW to disappear from view; so a migrant, thought to be darker than any bird present on 8/10 so a new bird; I think a steady trickle of birds pass through from Scotland on their way to the south coast of England, around the Isle of Wight, and from there over to Normandy; that's the ideal route with a few ending up further W with more uncertain journey through SW England and Brittany.

-October 16

13:10:00

Hexham Town/Tyne Green (NY96 H)

Juvenile

1

1 SW

From bridge across railway line at Hexham Station at 13:10 a juvenile Honey-buzzard appeared from the E moving WNW in flap-flap-glide motion; as it came over Acomb it started to turn and eventually moved SW over Warden at moderate height. The bird was well developed and a good flier. The wind was moderate SE, so feeling is the bird had followed the A68 to Corbridge and then drifted W on the breeze and started to correct its course over Acomb to resume its basically S direction.

-October 17

12:15:00

Ordley/Steel (NY95 P)

Juvenile

1

1 rest

out only 30 seconds from home at Ordley before bumping into a Honey-buzzard at 12:15, a pale ruddy juvenile up above Laird's Wood mobbed by sundry corvids; it was hanging rather indecisively over the wood moving W, before finally more decisively dropping down out of sight on W side of wood.

-October 27

11:30-12:43

Bywell S/Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K)

Juvenile

1

1 rest

juvenile up at 11:32 from Cottagebank S, coming down by Tyne near Bywell Bridge, mid-brown plumage, pale underside, relatively mature in that wings and tail fully grown, power of flight high; moved SE to feed 11:35, to S of Mount at 11:53, then back via W of Mount to Tyne at 12:10; up again S of Cottagebank at 12:40, finally before heavy shower up over Mowden Hall at 12:43. Bird was very restless, keen to feed, maybe food not so plentiful now

Summary/

Comments:

 

 

 

 

 

 

April: 1

May: 4

Oct: 8

 

12-13: 1

13-14: 1

15-16: 6

resting: 5

upper South Tyne: 3

Allen: 1

Devil's Water; 1

Tyne Valley W: 8


Adult male: 3

Adult female: 2

Juvenile: 8

13

 

 

IN: 1 NE, 2 N, 1 NW, 1W

OUT: 2 SW, 1 SE, 5 resting

Most records are for migrating juveniles this year, hence peak in October with juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, moving through. The early birds in spring also appeared to be moving through to Scotland.

There is a peak in activity in late afternoon. The pattern reported though is probably exaggerated by the observer concentrating on this period.

The 2 popular routes of upper South Tyne and Tyne Valley W were again evident.

In spring adult males and females both appeared in the early movement. Juveniles very much predominate in October.

The total in autumn is much reduced from 2012, falling from 35 to 8. This might indicate poorer productivity in northern Britain. But more likely it is a simple reflection of the high variability in observed migration.

Direction was broadly N in spring, ranging from NE to W, and broadly S in autumn, ranging from SW to SE.

Records this year were concentrated at the start and end of the breeding season. It is obviously easier to be sure that a bird is a migrant when known breeding sites are vacant. So observations this year comprised 5 spring records at the end of April and in early May with the remaining 8 in October.

Table 17: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2013


An analysis was made for the 2013 results of the numbers of male, female and juvenile found in each phase of the season at their breeding sites. The results are shown in Table 18. As expected males are most conspicuous in the display period, outnumbering females by 29 to 21; numbers are more equal in the rearing period with males just outnumbering females by 19 to 16, perhaps because of their propensity for high-circling over the site when incubation starts; males leave earlier than females so it is not surprising that females outnumber males by 27 to 18 in the fledging period; by far the majority of birds seen in the fledging period are juveniles with the 83 seen being roughly double the number of adults seen. Because of the difficulty for inexperienced observers of separating juvenile Honey-buzzard from Common Buzzard, this compounds identification issues at this stage of the season.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

Display 2/5-19/6

Rearing 20/6-15/8

Fledging 16/8-2/10

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding





Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Juvenile



6

10

6

4

3

3

3

3

8


1x7

9

15

3

1

4

4

5

4

14



6

10

3

3

2

2

2

5

10



8

11

4

5

1

1

3

2

11



3

4

1

1

1

0

0

1

5


1x8

7

14

7

5

2

2

3

5

14



6

8

4

1

1

1

1

3

8



8

13

1

1

5

3

1

4

13


2 (15)

53

85

29

21

19

16

18

27

83

0


Table 18: Number of Male, Female and Juvenile Honey-buzzard found in each phase of breeding season in 2013


The detailed results for the 2014 breeding season are given in Table 19. It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 56 (53 in 2012) occupied sites and 54 (53) confirmed breeding pairs. Productivity was high with nearly every pair being successful and a record of 84+ (83+) young fledged. Productivity was high in absolute terms with 30 of the 54 successful sites raising 2 young; 15 raising at least one young and 3 raising one young. Perhaps because of the increasing difficulty of covering all sites in the fledging phase, an additional category for numbers fledged has been introduced. This is for the situation where in a visit in the fledging phase the immediate site is found to be still occupied but no young are seen. The classification here is >0, meaning that it is believed young have fledged but none have been seen, in effect the hidden brood. Six sites were classified as >0 in 2014, all also being recorded as breeding category ON, occupied nest, at the confirmed level.


The weather was above average throughout the breeding season, except in August, which was cool and windy after the remnants of a hurricane disturbed the line of the jet stream. This affected observations around mid-August at the start of the fledging season, contributing to the >0 category noted above.


This year the breeding density increased as three new sites were occupied, two classified as infilling; one new pair in the lower South Tyne in the vicinity of Haydon Bridge, another in the Tipalt, near Haltwhistle; the third was anticipated as another step towards the urban conurbation of Tyneside with a pair at Ryton Willows; this last pair are extending the range E rather than infilling. All these new pairs were successful, raising 5 young between them, suggesting that there is scope for further expansion. The Ryton site is 9.5 km from Tyne Bridge and 1.5 km from W edge of Newburn, where the solid conurbation of Tyneside begins. There is still scope for Honey-buzzard breeding at Woolsington and Gosforth Park on NW/N edge of conurbation! As usual the sites are not necessarily new for Honey-buzzard, just for the survey.


Survey effort was maintained throughout the season but there was 1 absence of almost 2 weeks in late May/early June and further absences of about 5 days in mid-June, late July, mid-August and late August. The main effect might have been from the long absence in late May/early June on the results for the display period but good weather at this time mitigated any effect.


In the target area in 2014 the same 12 sites were observed for nests as in 2013 with 100% success this year. Scots Pine (6 nests) remains the most popular tree with Norway Spruce (3) some way behind and Oak (2) and Douglas Fir (1) the only other type employed. Nests are much easier to find in Scots Pine and Oak than in Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir because of the structure of the crowns of the trees with for instance Scots Pine being open and Norway Spruce closed.


Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied (no. sites)

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Trees used for Nesting

Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge


Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

12

3

6

4

6


6

0

0

9 (3x2, 3x1+)

Scots Pine x2, Norway Spruce

Allen

9

15

2

3

8

8


8

0

1

12 (4x2, 3x1+, 1x>0)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Upper South Tyne

6

12

2

6

2

6


6

0

0

10 (4x2, 1x1, 1x>0)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Lower South Tyne

9

14

0

9

1

8


8

0

1

12 (4x2, 2x1+, 2x>0)


Tipalt

4

7

0

3

0

4


4

0

0

6 (2x2, 2x1)


Tyne W

7

13

3

7

4

7


7

0

0

12 (5x2, 1x1+, 1x>0)

2 x Scots Pine, Douglas Fir

Tyne E

7

10

1

5

3

7


7

0

0

11 (4x2, 3x1+)

Scots Pine

Derwent

8

13

1

3

5

8


8

0

0

12 (4x2, 3x1+,1x>0)

Scots Pine

Total

56

96

12

42

27

54


54

0

2

84 (30x2, 15x1+, 3x1, 6x>0)

Scots Pine x6, Norway Spruce x3, Oak x2, Douglas Fir

Table 19: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2014


Table 20 gives a breakdown of the numbers of males, females and juveniles in each part of the season. As in previous years, the male:female ratio is highest in the display season at 37:24 (1.54), reducing in the rearing season to 21:17 (1.24) and in the fledging season to 21:31 (0.68). Males are more obvious in the display phase and tend to leave before the females. The female visibility, in absolute terms, is highest in the fledging phase, when 31 noted, with birds being conspicuous in training sessions with the youngsters. The number of juveniles seen, reported as 78 in Table 20, differs from the 84 in Table 19, because of the 6 hidden broods (recorded as >0) noted in 2014. By definition all of the juveniles were seen in the fledging phase.


Area

No. sites in season

No. adults in season

Display 23/4-18/6

Rearing 19/6-17/8

Fledging 18/8-30/9

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

27/9-2/10



Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Juvenile


Devil’s Water

6

6

6

12

5

4

3

4

4

3

9


Allen

9

9

6

15

3

1

7

4

3

4

11

1x7

Upper South Tyne

6

6

6

12

6

4

0

2

5

6

9


Lower South Tyne

9

8

6

14

8

3

1

0

2

4

10


Tipalt

4

3

4

7

3

2

0

0

2

4

6


Tyne W

7

7

6

13

6

5

4

4

3

3

11

1x8

Tyne E

7

6

4

10

3

3

3

1

1

3

11


Derwent

8

7

6

13

3

2

3

2

1

4

11


Total

56

52

44

96

37

24

21

17

21

31

78

2 (15)


Table 20: Number of Male, Female and Juvenile Honey-buzzard found in each phase of breeding season in 2014


Table 21 shows the migration picture for Honey-buzzard in 2014. It was a record year with detailed analysis and commentary in the last 2 rows.


Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Direction

Movement

-April 21

16:51:00

Ordley (NY95 P)

Adult female

1

1 W

At 16:51 a female Honey-buzzard floated W over Ordley, peering around, clearly homing-in on its site, on northern edge of North Pennines. Saw it from my field: fortunately had camera with me; here's 2 short clips. It had been a sunny day after misty start, fairly cool but dry on light E breeze.

-May 4

17:20-17:40

Broomleyfell Plantation (NZ05 E)

Adult female

1

1 rest

migrant female Honey-buzzard on the Broomleyfell heath from 17:20-17:40 causing mayhem among the local Crow

-May 6

14:40-15:09

Newton (NZ06 H)

Adult male 2

Adult female 3

5

5 NE

From 14:40-14:45 had strong NE movement. Noticed a Honey-buzzard female soaring low-down near Newton at 14:40, a long way (2km!) from the long-established site at Bywell Cottagebank. She was soon joined by another female and they soared higher on what must have been very good lift on the SW breeze hitting the south-facing slopes of the Tyne. As they climbed towards the base of the clouds, another 2 birds, judged to be male and female, on size, were seen to follow them, a little way behind. By 14:45 all 4 birds were disappearing from sight, way up in the cloud base. Once away from the slopes of the Tyne, they would power-glide with the wind behind, losing height until further soaring opportunities emerged. Would judge this as mainly orographic lift rather than thermal lift, though must be a bit of latter. At 15:09 another bird, a male, was seen taking the same line, high-up in the clouds.

-May 17

16:50:00

Hexham Widehaugh (NY96 S)


Adult male

1

1 W

evocative day with the Honey-buzzard. Up came another lonely Honey-buzzard, a female, hanging high over a wooded hill from 15:50-16:04, keeping a vigil for her mate, with frequent hovering (or stationary flapping if you don't think Honey-buzzard hover!). Well no sign of him then. But I was keeping an eye open for migrants all afternoon, after quite an influx further south over the last 2 days. So not too surprised when a male appeared at moderate height, power-gliding W, about 2 km to the E of the site at 16:50. What followed though was electrifying: the female had clearly spotted him miles off, came quickly out of the wood, rapidly gaining height in broad spirals, and the male went into at least 2 butterfly display flights, with a series of plunges, rearing up and flapping at the top. The female by now was up with him and they went very high in close mutual circling, disappearing into the haze. So they are very pleased to see each other for the new breeding season!!

-August 5

12:30-12:40

Bywell Cottagebank (NZ06 L)


Adult male

1

1 SW

At 12:30 after almost one hour had not picked up any raptors but then noticed a male Honey-buzzard at moderate height over Bywell Cottagebank; he slowly soared to an enormous height, then floated off to SW, crossing the valley, still gaining height from the ridge lift due to the SW wind bouncing off the N side of the valley; he disappeared from sight, he was so high, by time he reached the S side of the valley at 12:40. He was heading for the W side of the Pennines where orographic lift makes progress effortless on westerly winds. So that's the 1st migrant, not the local bird (seen later) and perhaps a Scottish bird leaving now the Games are over, or a failed breeder!

-August 22

12:35-13:33

Warden (NY96 D)


Adult male 3

3

3 SE

Three migrating Honey-buzzard were seen, all males; at 12:35 2 came from the NW arriving at fairly low altitude, looking as if they were in the early stages of their movement, perhaps from further W in the lower South Tyne Valley; they soared very high, drifting SE and were lost to sight; the local male was up to greet them maybe in defence of the site; at 13:33 the local male Honey-buzzard also departed SE, obviously satisfied with the progress of his family.

-September 6

16:25


Wylam E (NZ16 H)

Adult male

1

1 S

No sign of the male here so looks as if he'd left. Indeed at 16:25 did have a male arrive high over the site on the N side of the valley, so high that he'd only been picked up hanging above another raptor that was looking at. He moved steadily S keeping the height but probably looking for somewhere to roost: definitely a migrant. However the female at the site responded by making a very vigorous flap-flap-glide from the E to her site at low altitude, presumably to discourage him from camping there.

-September 14

15:15:00

Greenhead E (NY66 S)

Adult male

1

1 SW

During this display, the adult male was seen high above them at 15:15 floating ever higher on orographic lift as the NE breeze struck the S side of the valley. There was no interaction at any stage with the female or juvenile and thought he was a Scottish migrant, who had B&Bd and in the clearing weather had decided to go a little way further S with maybe 2 hours of flying time, covering c100 km. He did manage some interaction with a juvenile female Hobby: very good work!

-September 20

12:30:00

Whittle Dene Wood (NZ06 S)

Adult male

1

1 SE

In general no signs of a rapid exit though did get a male Honey-buzzard up at the start (12:30) lifting off Whittle Burn and doing a flap-flap-glide right across the Tyne SE towards Mickley; this mode of flight is the fastest at about 60 km/hour but uses a lot of energy so cannot be sustained for long; whatever he just wanted to be the hell out of here after 5-6 days presumably of being stranded.

-September 21

11:48:00

Kiln Pit Hill (NZ05 H)

Adult male

Adult female


2

2 S

Migration occurred at 11:48 when a great commotion was noted to N with 25 Jackdaw and a few Rook heavily mobbing a female and a male Honey-buzzard. The female rode through all the trouble and carried on S; the male got into aggro with a number of corvids and an adult Common Buzzard from the site to N, before finally deciding migration was the priority and climbing decisively higher above the mobbing birds. Both birds continued due S over the wind-farm. So that's 1st female recorded on migration; suspect these late males are Scottish (aggro!), this one and the one yesterday were certainly pretty fired up, frustrated with delays perhaps!

-September 21

13:20


Dipton Wood S (NY95 U)

Adult female

1

1 S

Then passing Slaley at 13:20 noted to N a high-flying female Honey-buzzard, mobbed by 1 Jackdaw, steadily moving S from edge of Dipton Wood. So females are starting to move out! They are more likely to be confused with Common Buzzard by observers, particularly away from coastal areas, as they are heavier than the males. But head is still small, neck long, tail long and slender, particularly at base; above all they look very large, almost eagle-like, with their long wings and heavier bodies than the males.

-September 24

15:40:00

Beldon Burn (NY94 P)


Adult male

1

1 S

Looking up the valley could see a family party of 4 Honey-buzzard near Hunstanworth, firmly up in the air from 15:32-15:40 with the male leading, way above the others, the female following, well clear of 2 juveniles, one of which was skimming the tree tops after a short while; the male went higher and higher into the cloud base and eventually disappeared off S on trek; so he was being given a send off. Site here looks as if it might have moved from N side of valley to S side, which may be why not picked up in spring round of visits.

-September 27

14:35:00

Sinderhope S (NY85 F)

Adult female

1

1 SW

from 14:32-14:36 had 2 juvenile and female up over wooded hillside, the female went high and proceeded to emigrate with flap-flap-glide to SW, slowly gaining height, as she rounded high moorland to W she leaned against it on the W side, gaining orographic lift from the moderate SW breeze, she had disappeared by 14:40

-October 2

12:30:00-14:30


Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K)

Juvenile 8

8

4 SW

4 S

8 Honey-buzzard juveniles emigrated from 12:30-14:30; it was confused to some extent with a number of birds making mock exits, then losing their nerve and coming back. This 8 would count as a gang of 8 locally-bred birds, deciding to finally emigrate, rather than birds passing through from further N, that's the final stage of the season. The 8 birds could have come from 4 sites, know 3 of the near-by sites raised 2 and the other near-by site 1 . Interestingly they seemed to finally emigrate in 2s, suspect they were siblings! They have timed their initial exit well, getting away before the weather deteriorates. Summary: 8 birds off as 4 duos from 12:30-14:30 with 4 SW 4 S and phases: very dark 1, fairly dark (grey) 5, rufous 1, pale/rufous 1.

-October 7

14:23-14:55

Towsbank (NY65 Y)

Juvenile

1

rest

Honey-buzzard numbered just one, a fairly pale juvenile bird hanging over the top of the wood from 14:23-14:35 and 14:50-14:55; such late birds are regarded as Scottish-bred, on passage through northern England and inclined to stop a bit with the superb habitat! This bird kept apart from the Common Buzzard and was more mobile, ranging over much of the top of the wood, before disappearing in quite a dive to the trees near the nest-site used by Honey-buzzard this season.

-October 10

14:35-15:15

Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K)

Juvenile 3

3

rest

Had 3 Honey-buzzard juvenile up over Bywell to N, plus 2 Common Buzzard. First Honey-buzzard up was a rufous juvenile around Short Wood at 14:35, climbing up a little way, before gliding back to the fields a little to the W. At 15:10 a dark Honey-buzzard juvenile was up to NW of Cottagebank, going moderately high and staying up for a while, not sure what happened to this bird. At 15:15 4 birds were up in Short Wood area: 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile soaring above 2 Common Buzzard below. The Honey-buzzard comprised the rufous bird seen earlier and a pale bird, both coming down eventually. So it looks as if 3 Honey-buzzard were present (1 each of dark, rufous, pale phases), presumed to be birds on passage, taking a break in the lovely Tyne Valley.

-October 15

15:55:00

Haltwhistle, North Wood (NY66 W)

Juvenile

1

rest

still getting the odd Honey-buzzard; today saw a juvenile at North Wood, Haltwhistle, at 15:55, flying across the South Tyne from presumed feeding area on W side to the main wood in strong flap-flap-glide action; again will attribute the bird as a late, resting Scottish-bred migrant,

-October 15

13:30:00

Stocksfield E (NZ06 Q)

Juvenile

1

1 SW

Friend (DP) has shown me piccies of a 'buzzard' moving SW over their house in Stocksfield E on 15/10 at 13:30; think it's a dark-phase Honey-buzzard, which can be added to list as the dark bird at Bywell seen by me on 10/10 will presumably have moved on by then.

-October 19

13:55:00

Stocksfield Guessburn (NZ06 K)

Juvenile

1

rest

delighted to have the Honey-buzzard season kept going by a a rufous-buffy juvenile up at 13:55 over the Tyne above Bywell Castle moving low-down into trees towards Shilford; it wasn't going anywhere in today's weather, just moving feeding position

-October 23

14:35-15:25


Haltwhistle, North Wood (NY66 W)

Juvenile 2

2

rest

The 1st bird, quite young-looking with short primary projections, was predominantly grey and was up at 14:35 briefly above the canopy before coming down on N side of extended copse. The 2nd bird, larger and dark phase with long primary projections, came up at 14:45 and flew into a group of 4 large trees where it perched for 10 minutes before continuing its slow progress down the copse towards the S end. Unlike adults, juvenile Honey-buzzard often perch in the open both shortly after fledging and on migration through the UK: maybe they don't get out of this habit until they get to Africa and find out how many larger raptors will take them, given the chance! Around 15:20 there were a number of disturbances at the S end, with the 2nd Honey-buzzard getting up at 15:25, also mobbed by Jackdaw, climbing a little into the sky and subsiding into another conifer wood 300m to the SW.

-October 25

13:55


Towsbank (NY65 Y)

Juvenile

1

1 S

a ruddy-brown Honey-buzzard juvenile flew S at 13:55, coming from the N and moving low-down against the ridge to the E, thus getting orographic lift on the SW wind; it kept on flying over the Snope Burn, disappearing from sight; it was not one of the birds at Haltwhistle 2 days ago as they were both darker

-October 27

16:30:00

Ordley (NY95 P)

Juvenile

1

rest

highlight was a juvenile Honey-buzzard at 16:30 flying low overhead moving SE from Black Hall towards Ordley Village, presumably to roost; think this bird must be feeding locally in the rich habitat of the Devil's Water.

-October 30

14:20-14:50

Harwood Shield (NY95 A)

Juvenile

1

rest

1st up was a juvenile Honey-buzzard, hanging strongly in the breeze, at 14:20 for 10 minutes and 14:50 for 10 minutes. The Honey-buzzard was joined around 14:50 by a Common Buzzard and a Kestrel.

Summary/

Comments:

 

 

 

 

 

 

April: 1

May: 7

August: 4

September: 8

October: 20


11-12: 2

12-13: 6

13-14: 8

14-15: 7

15-16: 3

16-17: 3

resting: 11

Tipalt: 1

upper South Tyne: 5

lower South Tyne: 3

Allen: 1

Devil's Water: 4

Tyne Valley W: 21

Tyne Valley E: 2

Derwent: 3

Adult male: 12

Adult female: 8

Juvenile: 20

40


 

IN: 5 NE, 2 W, 1 resting

OUT: 8 SW, 10 S, 4 SE, 10 resting

Most records are for migrating juveniles this year, hence the peak in October with juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, moving through. Some of the early birds in spring also appeared to be moving through to Scotland.

There is a peak in activity this year in early afternoon from 12:00-15:00, with 21 out of 29 flying birds noted at this time. The times at which resting birds have been noted are not included in the analysis. As ever observer routines affect the picture here.

The most popular route this year was via Tyne Valley W, where many juveniles were noted in October. About half the migrants were noted here over the whole season. However, migrants were seen in all areas, suggesting a broad front to some extent.

In spring adult males and females both featured with a slight preponderance of latter. In autumn males left first, followed by females. Juveniles very much predominate in October, many resting in prime feeding areas.

A record total with the high number in October presumably indicating a rapidly rising population further N in Scotland.

Direction in spring was either NE (birds moving further N) or W (birds arriving in Tyne Valley). In autumn the direction was broadly S, ranging from SW to SE, sometimes a reflection of the topology

Records this year as usual were concentrated at the start and end of the breeding season. It is obviously easier to be sure that a bird is a migrant when known breeding sites are vacant. So observations this year comprised 8 spring birds at the end of April and in early May and 20 late autumn birds in October. Exiting males accounted for most of the 12 birds in August and September, with a few females noted in the last third of September.

Table 21: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2014


The detailed results for the 2015 breeding season are given in Table 22. It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of occupancy with 57 occupied sites (56 in 2014) but the number of confirmed breeding pairs fell slightly to 53 (54 in 2014), mainly because 2 sites did not apparently progress in the Haltwhistle area. The outstanding feature was the high productivity with at least 40 pairs fledging 2 young, 12 pairs at least 1 young and 3 pairs greater then 0 young, giving a minimum fledge of 95 juveniles (84+ in 2014), by some way the highest yet recorded. In terms of successful nests, 55 pairs raised the 95+ young, that is a minimum of 1.73 young per pair.


The weather was very poor at the start of the season with strong cool winds running through late April and much of May into early June; it was then quite variable but without any long periods of dull weather which can affect fieldwork and maybe the birds. The mixed weather over much of the rearing period (mid-June to mid-August) may have actually benefited the birds, giving spells of sunshine and rain to assist insect populations. September and the first part of October were generally fine, enabling the fledging of the birds to be well monitored.


This year the breeding totals increased by just one with a new site at Derwent Gorge on the E side of Derwent Reservoir, which was successful with 2 young fledged. The incursion towards the Newcastle/Gateshead conurbation continues to be of interest. The Ryton site, 9.5 km from Tyne Bridge and 1.5 km from W edge of Newburn, was again successful with 2 young fledged. A female was hanging over the area SE of Dunston, towards Gateshead on 14/8; this bird is presumed to be from Hill Head Wood, a large wood to E of Sunniside, just 4.5km from Newcastle city centre compared to the c9km for the closest known sites to W at Ryton and Throckley. Gosforth Park, not known as a site, is 6km from the city centre so could be colonised before too long, if it isn't already! Woolsington is another possible site 6km out. Getting closer than Hill Head requires colonisation of a park. The only other change to the sites was a presumed move of the pair at Softley further up the upper South Tyne valley to Williamston; it is remarkable how long the pair had bred at Softley, an area largely devoid of Common Buzzard and on the E edge of the badlands to the W.


Survey effort was maintained throughout the season but there were 2 absences of about a week each in late May and mid-June affecting mainly the display observations; another 2 absences of about a week each followed in late July and early August affecting the rearing observations; there were few absences during the fledging period, which was therefore well covered.


In the target area in 2015, 10 sites were observed for nests (12 in 2014) with 100% success again this year. Scots Pine (6 nests) remains the most popular tree with Norway Spruce (2) and Oak (2) some way behind. The reduction in the number of nests sought was due to time constraints in keeping up with the booming Honey-buzzard population. The two sites eliminated included one using Norway Spruce in the upper South Tyne, where the birds moved this year and it was thought to be too difficult to relocate them; the other was in Tyne Valley West where the nest in Norway Spruce or Douglas Fir has always been particularly difficult to find.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied (no. sites)

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Trees used for Nesting

Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge


Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

11

3

6

3

6


6

0

0

10 (4x2, 2x1+)

Scots Pine x2, Norway Spruce

Allen

9

17

2

3

6

9


9

0

0

16 (7x2, 1x1, 1x>0)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Upper South Tyne

6

11

1

6

1

5


5

1

0

10 (5x2, 1x0)

Oak

Lower South Tyne

9

11

0

7

3

9


8

1

0

14 (5x2, 3x1+, 1x>0)


Tipalt

4

6

0

3

0

3


2

2

0

4 (1x2, 1x1+, 1x>0, 1x0)


Tyne W

7

13

2

7

2

7


7

0

0

13 (6x2, 1x1+)

2 x Scots Pine

Tyne E

7

10

1

4

5

7


7

0

0

12 (5x2, 2x1+)

Scots Pine

Derwent

9

17

1

1

8

9


9

0

0

16 (7x2, 2x1+)

Scots Pine

Total

57

96

10

37

28

55


53

4

0

95 (40x2, 11x1+, 1x1, 3x>0, 2x0)

Scots Pine x6, Norway Spruce x2, Oak x2

Table 22: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2015


Table 23 gives a breakdown of the numbers of males, females and juveniles in each part of the season. The male:female ratio was, compared to previous seasons, rather flat across the year being only 27:22 (1.23) in the display season, reducing in the rearing season to 17:17 (1.00) and unusually in the fledging season rising again to 34:31 (1.10). It is speculated that the poor weather in the display phase reduced the amount of high aerial activity display in which the males are conspicuous; in the fledging phase the high productivity delayed the males' departure as they stayed longer to help feed the young. The number of juveniles seen, reported as 92 in Table 23, differs from the 95 in Table 22, because of the 3 hidden broods (recorded as >0). By definition all of the juveniles were seen in the fledging phase. Two gangs, assemblages of juveniles before departure, were noted from 24/9-28/9, totalling 9 birds.


Area

No. sites in season

No. adults in season

Display 21/4-20/6

Rearing 21/6-14/8

Fledging 15/8-27/9

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding

24/9-28/9



Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Juvenile


Devil’s Water

6

5

6

11

4

4

2

2

3

1

10


Allen

9

8

9

17

3

2

3

3

6

8

15


Upper South Tyne

6

5

6

11

4

5

1

1

3

3

10


Lower South Tyne

9

8

3

11

6

1

2

1

5

3

13


Tipalt

4

3

3

6

3

2

0

0

2

2

3


Tyne W

7

6

7

13

4

5

1

2

5

5

13

1x6

Tyne E

7

6

4

10

2

2

3

4

3

2

12

1x3

Derwent

9

9

8

17

1

1

5

4

7

7

16


Total

57

50

46

96

27

22

17

17

34

31

92

2 (9)

Table 23: Number of Male, Female and Juvenile Honey-buzzard found in each phase of breeding season in 2015


Table 24 shows the migration picture for Honey-buzzard in 2015. It was a subdued year with detailed analysis and commentary in the last 2 rows.


Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Direction

Movement

-September 6

12:10


Ordley (NY95 P)

Adult male

2

2 SE

The 1st migrant Honey-buzzard were seen today with 2 males leaving from local sites in the 'Shire from 12:05-12:15; looking to the N from home, picked up a pale ruddy juvenile Honey-buzzard up to the W, flapping up to some height, when picked up 2 male Honey-buzzard moving SE, one from directly below, the other from further N; both gained height steadily as crossed the Devil's Water and looked clearly on their way to Africa completely disappearing from sight in the clear blue sky and light NW breeze; these were presumed to be the males from the 2 local sites at Ordley and Dotland; the juvenile seen up initially was at medium height and it was joined by another ruddy pale-phase juvenile, both presumed from the local Ordley site, waving goodbye to dad!

-September 7

16:05:00

Hexham (NY96 H)

Adult male

1

1 S

Over Hexham Tyne Green from 15:58-16:03 there was chaos bird-wise with all the corvids up in the air and Swallow flying wildly everywhere. There was a mini-funnel of Honey-buzzard up from the Tyne area with a male soaring rapidly to a great height just below the clouds, a female way-up but some distance below and 2 struggling juveniles with wings held straight out trying to soar but not gaining much height (soaring rapidly is an acquired skill as they need to read the thermals very precisely!). The male left decisively, moving just below the high clouds to S, and the other 3 birds after staying up a bit longer, disappeared quickly (presumably diving back to the ground). So that was an impressive exit!

-September 9

14:00:00

Gilsland (NY66 I)

Adult male

1

1 S

Another Honey-buzzard, also a male, flew S just to W of Gilsland at 14:00, gliding fast at right-angles to the wind, using ridge (orographic) lift for speed. You do sometimes get migrants on the sunnier side of the murk, maybe pushed a little further W than usual in this case.

-September 10

11:55:00

Minsteracres (NZ05 H)

Adult male


1

1 S

Another migrant was seen: a male Honey-buzzard was climbing from 11:50-11:57 well to the N climbing the ridge into the S breeze; he was using ridge lift to gain incredible height, disappearing from site and presumably going off overhead to S.

-September 19

15:10


Studdon Park (NY85 M)

Adult female

1

1 SW

An adult female Honey-buzzard migrated through the site at 15:10, moving SW straight into the breeze at moderate altitude; she was clearly exploiting ridge lift to reduce energy use.

-September 19

16:05:00

Sinderhope (NY85 G)


Adult male

1

1 SW

Meanwhile at 16:05 an adult male had migrated across the Allen moving SW, in the diving phase of the ridge lift strategy, coming low over the moor on the W side of the valley into the breeze. He was moving very quickly, seeing the wind was against.

-September 22

14:05:00

Kirkhaugh (NY74 E)

Juvenile

1

rest

As approached Alston from Hexham at 14:05, picked up a flock of corvids in an angry swarm over the moorland to SE of Kirkhaugh; such swarms are well worth scanning for a Honey-buzzard juvenile (not adult, as treatment seems to be reserved for juveniles!). On the edge of the swarm was indeed a juvenile Honey-buzzard, dark rufous colour, which drifted towards the Clarghyll mine. This bird was presumed to be a migrant, the 1st juvenile migrant seen this year, but did later check out carefully the Kirkhaugh area for adults as it has been an occasional breeding site in the past.

-September 24

14:55


Newburn (NZ16 M)

Juvenile

1

1 SE

At 14:55 a juvenile Honey-buzzard migrant was spotted over S end of Throckley to N, at great height in the fresh breeze; it didn't seem very perturbed and was moving SE before being lost to sight.

-September 27

13:10-14:20

Beldon Burn (NY94 J)

Adult male 1

Juvenile 2

3

3 SW

Also sorted out Riddlehamhope to some extent with a very weak-flying juvenile up to E of the mature pine plantation at 14:15-14:20, converting this from a >0 to 1+; the male was up at this site at 13:30 and well above the juvenile at 14:20 but he carried on getting higher and higher before departing SW: bye-bye junior! 2 more Honey-buzzard migrants were seen: at 13:10 a large dark juvenile flapped up the Beldon Burn moving W to W of Middle Plantation and then proceeded to soar to a great height before moving off SW. Below it was another smaller, paler juvenile, which came off the moorland and followed it up into the sky so by 13:20 both had disappeared SW.

-October 14

14:35-15:15

Haltwhistle (NY76 C)

Juvenile 2

2

rest

Had a dark-brown juvenile Honey-buzzard on way out at 14:35, E of Melkridge (lower South Tyne), flying low over rough meadows with scattered trees. At North Wood (upper South Tyne) the Common Buzzard were very anxious with 2 adults and 2 juveniles calling agitatedly. Eventually at 15:14 a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard came out of the wood from which the Common Buzzard were calling and flew a little way NW towards the South Tyne.

-October 15

14:50


Newburn (NZ16 M)

Juvenile

1

rest

a dark brown juvenile Honey-buzzard over Ryton Willows at 14:50 mobbed by 8 Jackdaw and 4 Rook, before gliding fairly low-down onto fields on Newburn side; it was beginning to look more like an adult Honey-buzzard structurally with long wings and tail as matured somewhat on presumed trip down from Scotland.

-October 18

15:45:00

Bywell (NZ06 K)

Juvenile

1

rest

At 15:45 a flock of Jackdaw was seen to rise quickly over NW of Cottagebank and sure enough a juvenile pale-phase Honey-buzzard appeared low over the trees, floating around before settling down again; the young birds tend to be restless, flying low from field to field. This is the first bird seen here since 28/9, when a gang of 6 juveniles was present, suggesting this is a new bird, not a lingerer; it looked quite young so late to fledge from Scotland perhaps.

Summary/

Comments:

 

 

 

 

 

 

September: 12

October: 4


11-12: 1

12-13: 2

13-14: 2

14-15: 3

15-16:1

16-17: 2

resting: 5

Tipalt: 1

upper South Tyne: 2

lower South Tyne: 1

Allen: 2

Devil's Water: 2

Tyne Valley W: 2

Tyne Valley E: 2

Derwent: 4

Adult male: 7

Adult female: 1

Juvenile: 8

16


 

OUT: 5 SW, 3 S, 3 SE, 5 resting

All records this year are in the main autumnal movement period. Males appeared to leave later than usual, perhaps because of the very high local productivity necessitating their help with food supplies for longer than usual. Numbers in October are relatively low, perhaps because of poor productivity in Scotland.

There is no obvious peak in activity this year at a particular hour. The times at which resting birds have been noted are not included in the analysis. As ever observer routines affect the picture here.

This year saw broad front migration with no obvious concentrations.

In autumn males left first with just one female noted in the whole period. Juveniles very much predominated in late September and October, with some resting in prime feeding areas.

A much lower total than in recent years. Poor weather in NE England in spring may have caused many to sneak through at low altitude. The good weather in autumn in NE England meant local birds were readily viewed but maybe productivity in Scotland was well down.

In autumn the direction was broadly S, ranging from SW to SE, sometimes a reflection of the topology

The absence of observed migration in spring is attributed to the poor weather in spring in NE England, which reduced observer time in the field and may have encouraged birds moving to Scotland to sneak through at low altitude. The low autumn totals, compared to most recent years, may be due to a poor breeding season in Scotland where the turbulent weather continued through into July and August, with strong cold winds and much rain. See for instance these articles in the Scotsman http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/scotland-weather-2015-windiest-year-in-decades-1-3841489 and the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33854146. On the other hand NR did find 4 juvenile Honey-buzzard in the Tay Valley at 4 sites from 14/9-17/9 so an alternative explanation is that the fine weather in mid-autumn facilitated a quick and smooth exit with few birds resting in NE England.

Table 24: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2015


The detailed results for the 2016 breeding season are given in Table 25. There was an important major change to the size of the study area. Because of the increasing population, the study area was reduced in size with the elimination of lower South Tyne and Tipalt/Irthing. These areas were responsible in 2015 for 13 sites, 17 adult (11 male, 6 female),12 sites occupied, fledging 18+ juveniles (6x2, 4x1+, 2x0+) with 1 further site failing (1x0), 2 migrants. So, for making meaningful comparisons, new baselines have been calculated for 2015.


It was yet another record-breaking season for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in terms of density with 49 occupied sites (44 in 2015, adjusted for change in size of study area) with the number of confirmed breeding pairs at 48 (42 in 2015). The one site where no juveniles was seen was in the upper South Tyne; the one monitored site in the Haltwhistle area, where there were 2 apparent failures last year, was successful in 2016. Productivity was again very high with 34 pairs raising 2 young (same, 34 in 2015), 11 pairs at least 1 young, 3 pairs one young and 1 pair greater then 0 young, giving a minimum fledge of 83+ juveniles (77+ in 2014). In terms of known successful nests, 48 pairs raised 82+ young, that is a minimum of 1.71 young per pair (in 2015, 76+ young from 42 nests, 1.81 young per pair).


Weather report: very cold in late April with persistent N airstream; conditions improved rapidly in early May with sunshine and showers; from mid-May to mid-June the weather was very variable with some grand sunny days interspersed with grey ones, when wind off the North Sea; in late June the weather continued changeable with just a few days with strong sunshine; in July there were no long spells of rain but neither was it settled though it was very warm at times; August continued the changeable theme with strong sunshine, murk and gales in the first 10 days; after good weather for the start of the fledging period in mid-August, the last 10 days saw great variation with the W breeze and rainfall totals both increasing; September was generally bright and breezy with no lengthy spells of rain; October was sunnier and milder than usual with E winds at the start becoming mainly W; the end of the month saw increasing murk but it remained mild and there were no significant frosts; in November the first hoar frost was on 2nd with regular hard frosts by the middle of the month.


There were 4 new sites this year on heather moorland at altitude: on the E side of Whitfield Moor, the S extreme of upper South Tyne below Alston, and on N and S sides of Derwent Reservoir. In Tyne Valley E a new site was found on the Stanley Burn near Prudhoe, once again demonstrating that the species is not worried by nearby conurbations. So 5 sites were added in the redefined study area and none were lost. The incursion towards the Newcastle/Gateshead conurbation was not studied any further this year although Prestwick Carr near Newcastle Airport, from winter visits, appears to be very suitable habitat for the species.


Survey effort was maintained throughout the season but there were 4 absences of 5-8 days each in mid-May (Ireland), mid-July (Devon), mid-August (Hampshire) and mid-September (London). So each period of activity was affected to a limited extent but none seriously.


In the target area in 2016, 10 sites were observed for nests (10 in 2015) with 100% success again this year. Scots Pine (5 nests) remains the most popular tree with Norway Spruce (2), Oak (2) and Douglas Fir (1) some way behind. There was a change in the sites visited in Tyne Valley W with the one dropped in 2015 reinstated and another one dropped. The dropped site was thought to be unsafe through extensive rutting of the surface due to forestry operations. It was thought to be easier to reinstate a site where the preferences of the birds were known; reinstating a site with a lengthy series of records also has benefits from the analysis point of view. Each site was visited twice, the first visit between 28/6-31/7 in the sitting/rearing period of the season and the second between 13/8-4/9 in the fledging period of the season.



Area

No. sites

No. adults

No. nests

found

Observed Occupied (no. sites)

Breeding Category

Number young fledged

Trees used for Nesting

Display

Sit/

Rear

Fledge


Conf

Prob

Poss

Devil’s Water

6

10

3

6

3

6


6

0

0

11 (5x2, 1x1+)

Scots Pine x2, Norway Spruce

Allen

10

15

2

9

2

10


10

0

0

18 (8x2, 2x1+)

Oak, Norway Spruce

Upper South Tyne

7

9

1

5

1

7


6

1

0

11 (4x2, 1x1+, 1x1, 1x>0)

Oak

Lower South Tyne



Not systematically surveyed this year

Tipalt



Not systematically surveyed this year

Tyne W

7

11

2

7

3

7


7

0

0

13 (6x2, 1x1+)

Scots Pine, Douglas Fir

Tyne E

8

13

1

6

2

8


8

0

0

11 (3x2, 4x1+, 1x1)

Scots Pine

Derwent

11

16

1

7

4

11


11

0

0

19 (8x2, 2x1+, 1x1)

Scots Pine

Total

49

74

10

40

15

49


48

1

0

83 (34x2, 11x1+, 3x1, 1x>0)

Scots Pine x5, Norway Spruce x2, Oak x2, Douglas Fir 1

Table 25: Results for the Honey-buzzard Breeding Season in SW Northumberland by area in 2016


Table 26 gives a breakdown of the numbers of males, females and juveniles in each part of the season. The male:female ratio was again rather low in the display phase at 29:24 (1.21), reducing as expected in the rearing season to 5:13 (0.38) and falling in the fledging season below 1.00 at 18:23 (0.78). The very poor visibility of the adults in the rearing phase is indicated by only 18 being seen then compared to 53 in display and 41 in fledging. The number of juveniles seen, reported as 82 in Table 26, differs from the 83 in Table 25, because of the 1 hidden brood (recorded as >0). Normally all the juveniles are seen in the fledging phase, by definition, but this year the first fledging was on 6/8 at the 'home' site in the Devil's Water; this was significantly ahead of the general population so was not taken as the marker for the start of the fledging period in general. No gangs, assemblages of juveniles before departure, were noted this year.


Area

No. sites in season

No. adults in season

Display 2/5-21/6

Rearing 22/6-10/8

Fledging 11/8-25/9

Gangs of juveniles post-breeding




Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Male

Female

Juvenile

Male

Female

Juvenile


Devil’s Water

6

6

4

10

4

4

2

2

1

2

2

11


Allen

10

7

8

15

6

6

0

2

0

6

5

18


Upper South Tyne

7

4

5

9

2

4

1

1

0

4

3

10


Lower South Tyne

Not systematically surveyed this year

Tipalt

Not systematically surveyed this year

Tyne W

7

6

5

11

6

3

2

2

0

1

4

13


Tyne E

8

6

7

13

5

5

0

2

0

2

3

11


Derwent

11

8

8

16

6

2

0

4

0

3

6

19


Total

49

37

37

74

29

24

5

13

1

18

23

82

0

Table 26: Number of Male, Female and Juvenile Honey-buzzard found in each phase of breeding season in 2016



Table 27 shows the migration picture for Honey-buzzard in 2016. It was a much better year than 2015, very close to the record season of 2014.


Date

Time

Locality

Age/Sex

Count

Direction

Movement

May 22

14:24


Farnley (NZ06B)

Adult male, adult female

2

2 N

2 migrants at 14:24 as the clouds gathered, maybe moving lower as a precaution, a male and a female, both progressing N after a pause to look at the lush habitat in the Tyne Valley. At 14:13 the resident male dashed over to the NE part of his territory, possibly in response to an intruder, such as a migrant. The migrant male was slightly heavier than the resident male and had all feathers intact

Jun 07

12:00


Hexham (NY96 L)

Adult female

1

1 NW

Early lunch-takers in Hexham Priestpopple were treated to the spectacle from 12:00-12:05 of a female Honey-buzzard taking off from Hackwood and soaring very slowly in the heavy air, mobbed by 5 Jackdaw, as she moved NW; eventually she shook off the Jackdaw and disappeared to sight very high up so a late migrant, possibly a Scottish 3cy bird who'll soon be looking for a vacancy!! Actually think I was the only person who saw her and got some strange looks!

Aug 18

12:51


Dotland (NY95 JI)

Adult male

1

1 S

In the 'Shire at Dotland had a male Honey-buzzard floating higher and higher before drifting off S at 12:51. Presumed he was leaving his nesting site.

Aug 18

15:25


Bywell (NZ06 L)

Adult male 4, Adult female 1


5

5 W

Visited Stocksfield Mount in the afternoon from 15:05-17:20 in fine, warm weather on light to moderate SE breeze. Was amazed from 15:24-15:30 to have a group of 5 Honey-buzzard migrating W along the valley at moderate height, taking advantage of the ridge lift on the N side of the valley from the SE breeze. They moved higher and disappeared from sight, presumably moving SW/S at some stage, maybe down the Allen or South Tyne, where they would get some ridge lift on the W side of the valleys. They appeared first high in the sky in the middle of the valley to N of Prudhoe and were going W over Newton when last seen. Took some photographs which showed wing and tail barring and indicated the group comprised 4 male and 1 female, all adult. These would be experienced birds, from north Northumberland or Scotland, so in the clear conditions would know exactly what they were doing.

Aug 24

14:30


Haltwhistle North Wood (NY66 W)

Adult male

1

1 S

As a juvenile Honey-buzzard at 13:14 flew across a field to a large wood, angry calls were heard from an adult Common Buzzard, already in it. The juvenile didn't join in the soaring of its family to W of South Tyne, directly W of the main wood from 13:20-13:23, involving an adult male keeping well up and an adult female well down with a weak-flying juvenile in tow; the display was fairly static, no exciting dives. A Common Buzzard juvenile was also seen here as well as a juvenile male Sparrowhawk in the visit from 12:20-13:40. Later at 14:30 when at Featherstone, again saw the male Honey-buzzard soaring over North Wood but he went very high and left in a power-glide to SW: Africa here we come! So the early activity was his farewell party: see you next May, dear!

Aug 29

13:45


Oakpool (NY85 D)


Adult male

1

1 S

After exiting site, walked up road to the open fields at 13:45, just in time to see the male up very high and still climbing, disappearing off to S on his return migration; the female was up fairly high but she came back to earth; no juveniles were seen here though a juvenile Common Buzzard gave good views.

Sep 02

16:10

Slaley Forest - Rawgreen (NY95 I)

Adult female

1

1 SE

waited until 16:07 when the female Honey-buzzard appeared from NW at moderate height; she came slowly over the nesting wood, going lower, and thought she was going to settle but no, she circled twice and then floated off SE gaining height steadily, hanging in the breeze so she was always looking back towards the site; by 16:12 she was barely visible and soon after disappeared high into the sky; she was on her way to Africa! The juveniles are left to fend for themselves once they've been fledged a while, perhaps 3 weeks.

Sep 07

15:50


Studdon Park (NY85 M)

Adult male

1

1 S

Did not have to wait long for action with a male Honey-buzzard up at 15:50. Coming out of the site, he kept at low level until 15:53, exploring a wood on the W side of the valley. Then after a drift back over the site, he started climbing and soared up to a great height over the Allen before slowly gliding S at 16:02; so another migrant out of site and somewhat similar in behaviour to the female in Slaley Forest on 2/9.

Sep 09

15:20-17:25

Shilford (NZ06 F)

Juvenile

1

Rest 1

A juvenile dark-phase Honey-buzzard was up over the fields NW of Shilford, mobbed by a Crow, at 17:23; this was assumed to be the bird seen E of Shilford at 15:20 from the road; think this may be a migrant as very mobile, restless and not in favoured feeding zones; if so would be 1st juvenile migrant of the year.

Sep 10

15:06-15:23

Kirkside (NY74 E)

Adult male 1, Adult female 3, Juvenile 1

5

5 S

Cloudy in morning at Alston but sun came out later and as arrived at 14:50 things were warming up nicely on a light S breeze. Honey-buzzard were conspicuous from the viewpoint on Ayle Common and there was a significant passage of 4 adults and 1 juvenile. Stayed until 17:50. Soon after arrival as mist cleared, from 15:06-15:09, had 2 female Honey-buzzard arrive from the N low over the ridge, circle slowly over Ayle Common steadily rising and climb very high into the sky in the base of the thin clouds; the birds then glided off S. Very shortly after, from 15:10-15:11, a male Honey-buzzard appeared over Ayle Common, higher up than the females had been, and carried on moving due S without any soaring to gain height. The final adult migrant was seen at 15:17, with a female soaring over Randalhome, a little to the S, climbing slowly in a narrow column before drifting of to S. At 15:23 another Honey-buzzard juvenile appeared out of Kirkside Wood and, giving regular thin flight calls (recorded), climbed higher and disappeared to S; this bird was missing P6 on its left wing and was clearly distinctive. So that's a total of 5 migrant Honey-buzzard (3 female, 1 male, 1 juvenile), all moving S.

Sep 11

18:23


Beldon Burn Newbiggin (NY 94 P)

Juvenile

1

1 S

A juvenile very dark Honey-buzzard came over at moderate height at 18:23 in relaxed glide, moving steadily S and losing height gradually; it was looking for a place to spend the night and feed up for the next leg.

Sep 16

15:34


Stocksfield (NZ06 Q)

Juvenile 2

2

Rest 2

at 15:34, 2 Honey-buzzard juvenile feeding in Eltringham area and causing some consternation with the corvids; one was dark phase, the other much paler. They appeared briefly above the canopy but you could see their progress by the flock of attending corvids; both were considered to be migrants as out of position and restless.

Oct 01

14:26-15:16


Bywell (NZ06 L)

Juvenile 3

3

Rest 3

had 3 juvenile Honey-buzzard migrants feeding in the area: 2 at Bywell Short Wood/Merryshields and 1 at Shilford. The first Honey-buzzard was a dark-phase bird up from 14:26-14:27 soaring high above Merryshields, surrounded by Jackdaw. The soaring was repeated from 14:40-14:41, again with the Jackdaw but closer to Short Wood; this was presumed to be the same bird, which was relatively immature with still-growing wings and tail. From 15:14-15:16 2 Honey-buzzard dark phase juvenile were up over E end of Short Wood, including the heavier one seen earlier and a lighter bird with long tail, long wings, bulging secondaries and extended thin neck with small head. They engaged in mutual circling at some distance.

Oct 02

15:51


Whitley Castle (NY64 Z)

Juvenile

1

1 S

No instant success, indeed it wasn't until 15:51 that picked up a juvenile Honey-buzzard soaring off the SE slope on the shoulder of Grey Nag at Great Heaplaw (481m asl), a high moor to the W. The bird gained height quickly getting some lift from the SE wind on the ridge before floating off S. It appeared to have been feeding on the high rough moorland before resuming migration. Piccies showed it was a recently-fledged bird with typical silhouette of S-shaped trailing edge with shortish tail and outer primaries still growing.

Oct 04

16:01-16:07


Haltwhistle (NY66 W)

Juvenile 2

2

Rest 2

Had 2 more juvenile Honey-buzzard, both feeding in the upper South Tyne area and bringing the total to 6 over the last 4 days. Arrived a little late but just in time for the 4 o'clock soar. At 16:01 a juvenile ruddy Honey-buzzard was up in the air over a conifer copse, hanging in the light SE breeze; this one was relatively mature with full wings and longish tail and had the carpals pushed well-forward; it came back into the copse, attended by some corvids. At 16:07 another Honey-buzzard, darker and smaller, was up further S, moving slowly S but thought to be on a feeding mission, not a significant movement; it came down in the fields.

Oct 23

16:01

Barhaugh (NY65 V)

Juvenile

1

Rest

the season staggers on with a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard up over the Thornhope Burn in the upper South Tyne, circling a few times over the edge of the moorland, before coming down again around 16:01; it had bulging secondaries, long wings and broad sparse tail-bars but the tail with narrow base was not especially long, suggesting a very late fledging date (presumably in Scotland). Had made a visit from 14:50-17:30 to Kirkside/Gilderdale Bridge to check on events at the S end of the valley before it runs into Alston. Weather was cool with pulses of rain coming over frequently from the E leaving just short dry interludes in between

Oct 25

14:11-14:52

Bywell (NZ06 L)

Juvenile 4

4

2 S, 2 Rest

Honey-buzzard are hanging on in greater numbers than expected. Made Stocksfield Mount from 13:50-15:10 in perfect conditions, with mist clearing and wind changing from light E to slightly stronger S in warm sunshine for time of year. At Bywell Cottagebank 2 juveniles were seen together at 14:11 moving E at height before coming down to W end of site; these juveniles were pale and ruddy respectively. At 14:18 these 2 birds reappeared having moved back W again and soaring high to S, disappeared into the clear blue sky. Below them at the same time was a third Honey-buzzard juvenile, dark phase and large with shorter tail, circling low-down in a rather fixed position to W; this bird did not leave but came back down into the trees at 14:23. A Common Buzzard was up in trenchant manner to E of Short Wood at 14:31. It came up again later at 14:52, when it was joined by a fourth Honey-buzzard juvenile, this one dark phase with long narrow tail and significantly lighter-weight than the Common Buzzard; the Honey-buzzard chased the Common Buzzard for a little while in a dive, followed by a stand-off at fairly close range. It looks as if the birds have been blocked by the continual wet weather on the easterlies. Three of the juveniles were relatively mature with shape more typical of adult Honey-buzzard; one was still not fully developed, being of a more typical juvenile shape.

Oct 27

14:33

Hexham (NY96 H)

Juvenile

1

Rest

The Honey-buzzard took ages to clinch; at 12:35 had Jackdaw going crazy at E end of Hermitage but nothing came up above the trees; this was repeated a few more times through rest of visit; eventually at 14:33 a juvenile ruddy Honey-buzzard was seen rather weakly flying a little N to gain the updraught on the ridge before slowly moving W low-down; it was not going far!

Nov 01

14:51-15:12

Stocksfield (NZ06 Q)

Juvenile 2

2

Rest

with clear conditions overnight (1/11-2/11) the first real frost is threatened. Was there from 13:55-15:25 and not too surprised, in view of recent records, of 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles up over hill to E of Stocksfield and S of Eltringham for 2 lengthy spells of mutual circling and floating; the first from 14:51-14:52, the second from 15:03-15:12, both causing some consternation among corvids, particularly Jackdaw, with some mobbing on the second flight. Both were ruddy-phase so were not the 2 birds left here on 25/10, which were both dark phase; although both birds were ruddy on body, one had much paler remiges on the underside than the other; the paler bird was more stocky than the darker one.

Nov 02

13:28-13:38


Towsbank (NY65 Y)

Juvenile 2

2

2 S

reliably informed that there was a hoar frost this morning at 06:30 but did not witness it!! Went out W on another fine day, making Towsbank from 12:00-14:40; it was chilly at the start but was warming up nicely in the sunshine on light breeze around 13:30. Again, from 13:28-13:38 had 2 Honey-buzzard juveniles, both dark phase though one had a ruddy tinge, moving slowly S down the valley together, doing slow mutual circling; they were low down, so low that they could have been missed from higher ground. It's all very interesting; no doubt the dry and mild October has not put any pressure on them with wasps still being around; the 'pairs' are unlikely to be siblings as the older one seems to leave before the younger one. So these are presumably younger siblings finding some company. The great thing about these late birds is that they give an idea what the Honey-buzzard look like in Africa in their 1w (first-winter), which is very poorly documented.

Nov 04

14:30-14:44


Stocksfield (NZ06 Q)

Juvenile

1

Rest

At 14:24 noted masses of corvids up over Stocksfield E; the object of their attention was a dark-phase juvenile Honey-buzzard hanging fairly low-down with no lift at all from the weather; slowly the juvenile went higher, eventually by 14:30 leaving all the corvids (mostly Jackdaw) far below; could not tell whether it left or not. At 14:43 noted 2 'buzzard' up over same hill at Stocksfield E at considerable height on their own; they were interacting but not with any great ferocity; it was a Common Buzzard slightly above the Honey-buzzard seen earlier, so the latter had not left; at 14:44 both glided N steadily losing height into Eltringham area with the Common Buzzard leading the way. The Honey-buzzard was significantly larger than the Common Buzzard with longer wings, tail and neck. However, its behaviour was typical of an 'immature' juvenile, not being a confident active flier but good at floating. So that's a new bird, the 2 ruddy birds having presumably moved on.

Summary/

Comments:

 

 

 

 

 

 

May: 2

June: 1

August: 8

September: 11

October: 12

November: 5


11-12: 0

12-13: 2

13-14: 3

14-15: 5

15-16:12

16-17: 1

18-19: 1

resting: 15

upper South Tyne: 12

Tipalt: 0 (Not systematically surveyed this year)

lower South Tyne: 0 (Not systematically surveyed this year)

Allen: 2

Devil's Water: 2

Tyne Valley W: 22

Tyne Valley E: 0

Derwent: 1

Adult male: 10

Adult female: 7

Juvenile: 22

39


 

IN: 2 N, 1 NW

OUT: 15 S, 1 SE, 5 W, 15 resting

Most records are for migrating juveniles this year, hence the peak in October/early November with juveniles bred in northern Britain, particularly Scotland, moving through. The close of the season in the 1st 4 days of November was marked by the onset of frosty conditions.

The times may reflect observer activity as much as anything else. The times at which resting birds have been noted are not included in the analysis.

The most popular route this year was via Tyne Valley W, where many juveniles (11) were noted in October. Over half the migrants were noted here over the whole season. Another popular route is via the upper South Tyne, where 12 birds were counted over the whole season.

In autumn males left first, followed by females. The record of 5 adult W at Bywell on 18/8 is extraordinary; they may well have turned SW/S later. Juveniles very much predominate in October/early November, many resting in prime feeding areas.

A total very close to the record of 40 in 2014. The migration pattern in both years is similar. Good breeding seasons in Scotland are suggested in 2014 and 2016 with a poorer year in between in 2015.

Direction in spring was N/NW as expected. In autumn very much the predominant direction was S with the 5 W thought to be taking advantage of the local topology.

Records this year as usual were concentrated at the end of the breeding season. It is obviously easier to be sure that a bird is a migrant when known breeding sites are vacant. So observations this year comprised 17 juvenile in October/early November. Exiting males accounted for 7/8 birds in August but only 2/11 in September. Exiting females accounted for 1/8 birds in August and 4/11 in September. The 1st juvenile migrant was noted on 10/9. No adults were seen on migration after 10/9 though a few remained at upland breeding sites.

There is a gap in October from 4/10-23/10 in the local records. Migration did continue through this period though, as noted by NR in the nearby Lake District, with 4 migrants seen in the Lake Windermere area from 09/10-12/10. A total of 4 juveniles were seen: 1 SE, 1 S, 2 resting. Lake Windermere is perfect for breeding and migrating Honey-buzzard with its extensive woodland along the steep edges and its N-S orientation. Indeed it's rather like the upper South Tyne.

Table 27: Visible Migration Movements noted for Honey-buzzard in SW Northumberland in 2016


Particular attention was placed in 2016 on determining the colour phases of the juvenile Honey-buzzard, as shown in Table 28:




Total juveniles seen

Phase unknown

Phase known



Total

dark

brown

rufous/ruddy

pale

barred

purple

Total

Study Area bred

82

15

44

10

5

5

1

2

67

% phase-known total in study area



66

15

7

7

1

3


N England migrants

26

1

15

0

7

3

0

0

25

% phase-known total in migrants



60

0

28

12

0

0


Overall

108

16

59

10

12

8

1

2

92

% phase-known total overall



64

11

13

9

1

2



Table 28. Incidence of colour phases in juvenile Honey-buzzard in 2016 bred in the Study Area in SW Northumberland and in migrants passing through northern England

Colour phases were noted in the field followed by checks made on photographs obtained. The colour was assessed on the coverts of the underwing and on the underbody; the head colour was also noted, particularly on paler individuals. The difference between dark- and brown-phase birds is subjective to some extent with the shade on a cline from almost black to a neutral brown; the distinction was often made when studying a pair of juveniles where one looked significantly darker than the other. In the study area in SW Northumberland, 82 juveniles were studied in post-fledging situations from 5/8-25/9, including one juvenile just outside the current study area; the colour phase for 15 of these birds (18%) could not be determined as the birds were too distant or the lighting was too poor such as the bird being in silhouette. Presumed migrants were also studied with 26 juveniles being assessed from 9/9-4/11; the colour phase could not be determined for 1 of these birds (4%). These presumed migrants included 22 in Northumberland over the whole quoted period and 4 in the Lake District from 9/10-12/10. These presumed migrants are considered to be almost entirely Scottish-bred, moving slowly through northern England. For the overall figures,108 juvenile were studied of which 16 could not be assessed (15%).

The results in the study area show that 66% were dark-phase, with 15% brown, 7% rufous/ruddy, 7% pale, 3% purple and 1% barred. There is therefore a wide range of plumage but 81% are of the dark/brown types, indicating that to a casual observer, juvenile Honey-buzzard appear sombre colour-wise. The smaller sample of migrants shows a broadly similar picture except for a significantly higher proportion in the rufous/ruddy category (28%). Adding the figures together to give an overall picture gives 64% dark and 11% brown, making 75% in the sombre class. Minor but still significant phases are 13% rufous/ruddy and 9% pale, with just 2% purple and 1% barred.

Worth quoting from Ferguson-Lees, James, and Christie, David A, Raptors of the World, Christopher Helm (2001):

p.341. Western Honey Buzzard is then monotypic but, in parallel with its eastern counterpart, polymorphic to extent of being arguably more diversified in colour and pattern (chiefly head, underbody and wing-linings) than almost any other wild bird species. Often lumped simply as 'typical', 'pale' and 'dark', about ten adult and seven morphs are distinguishable -- some common, some much scarcer -- with further intergrades; adults can be classed as 'white-bellied' (male only), 'densely barred', 'thinly barred', 'black-blotched', 'black-spotted', 'sparsely-spotted', and the more unicolorous 'rufous, 'olive-brown', 'dark brown' and 'melanistic'; counterparts of the last four are also found in juvenile plumages, along with 'buff', 'light' and 'whitish'.


This quote shows the variability and complexity of the juvenile plumage. My classification focuses on what can be seen at some distance in the field. Dick Forsman, in Flight Identification of Raptors of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Christopher Helm (2016), notes:


p.56-57. Although juveniles come in many different plumage-types, uniformly dark brown birds predominate and account for about 90% of all juveniles. The remaining birds are lighter below, from sandy buff to pure white, variably streaked or mottled, often with a pale or whitish head, with showy dark 'sunglasses' in many. The underwing coverts vary in accordance with the general plumage colour and pattern … The upperparts also vary according to the general colouration of the plumage …


On my classification the pale birds make up 9%, in line with the estimate by Forsman of 10%. The sombre birds make up 75%, less than the 90% estimated by Forsman, but some of my darker ruddy-plumaged birds and the purple-phase birds would I feel be considered as simply dark by Forsman so our estimates seem to be in reasonable agreement. Forsman does show a ruddy-tinged dark juvenile in picture 27 (p.61).


Some photographs of habitat used by Honey-buzzard in Northumberland are shown at Honey-buzzard habitat

Details of the timing of the season and the survey techniques used are given at Honey-buzzard techniques

Honey-buzzard Home Page

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