Buzzard – 1994

Buteo buteo – BWNCATH – Breeding resident

Map produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre
Breeding confirmed156
Breeding probable79
Breeding possible170
No of tetrads occupied405 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads84.7%

Only half a dozen pairs were known to Mathew (1894) but Lockley et al. (1949) estimated “probably not less than 120 pairs” were breeding, an increase that occurred throughout the Buzzard’s range in the post 1914-1918 War period (Moore 1957). They have continued to increase since and in 1954 Skomer, with seven or eight pairs on 722 acres, had the greatest numbers of Buzzards per square mile recorded in Britain (Moore 1957). It is estimated that 250 pairs were breeding in the county during the Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988.

In Pembrokeshire, Buzzards nest mainly in trees; in the most open terrain nests can be as little as 1.5 metres from the ground in low hawthorns. Cliff ledges are used around the outer coast and on the larger islands. The breeding distribution is broadly uniform across the county but there are concentrations in heavily wooded valleys such as the Gwaun and Treffgame.

The reduction in rabbit numbers caused by the introduction of myxomatosis from 1952 to 1954 initially caused widespread breeding failure among Buzzards. For example, they almost disappeared from the south-west peninsula in 1955 when along 30 km of coastline on the St David’s peninsula, including Ramsey, there were no successful nests. The Skomer population declined to two pairs but quickly recovered to four or five pairs (Davis and Saunders 1965) and has remained largely at that level subsequently. Clutch size has also reduced with one, occasionally two, eggs now being normal whereas three was not uncommon formerly.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

DAVIS, T.A.W., and SAUNDERS, D.R. 1965. Buzzards on Skomer Island 1954—1964. Nature in Wales 9: 116-124.

MOORE, N.W. 1957. The past and present status of the Buzzard in the British Isles. British Birds 50: 173—197.

More about the Buzzard in Pembrokeshire