Wild Harris


Buzzard 3 LCampbell.jpgBuzzard    (Photo: Laurie Campbell)

If you see a bird of prey in Harris, then it is probably a buzzard. They are the most common birds of prey (or raptors) and can often be seen soaring over the machair. Look for the big raggedy silhouette: wide wings and a wide tail held in a fan. The ends of the wing feathers are spread out so that they look a bit like fingers. As they soar over the machair they are scanning the ground looking for rabbits to catch.

They have a mewing call a bit like a cat (it is a call that starlings often copy).

Buzzard 2 LCampbell.jpgBuzzard    (Photo: Laurie Campbell)

They are brown on the upper parts, with lots of white on the chest and on the underneath of the wings. Look at the large yellow feet (or tallons) – just perfect for catching rabbits with.

Buzzard 1 CReddick.jpgBuzzard    (Photo: Cliff Reddick)

The nests are usually on small rocky crags, but they can nest on sand dunes. There are usually two chicks in the nest –when the chicks get bigger both parents have to fly in and out of the nest all the time taking in rabbits and other prey. You can sometimes even see them hunting on the ground, walking through an area of machair where there are rabbits looking like some terrible avenger!

Look out for buzzards sitting on fence posts by the road – this is how to get the best view of this beautiful bird of prey.

by Alison Tyler