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The past couple of days have been ideal raptor weather, with some staggering, almost unbearable highs of 13 degrees C! Plus nice clear, blue skies and now that I’m looking, there was a light southerly breeze. Not ideal conditions for the Merlin Falco columbarius that I spotted buzzing a Buzzard, just a few minutes after Geoff Morgan had said “weather now perfect for a good raptor… Merlin N maybe or dare I hope for a Red Kite….” I also had 1 Peregrine, 3 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and 1 Sparrowhawk.

Just perfect timing! It was the 3rd bird I looked at after 2 Buzzards. Now, speaking of the good old double buteo, I’ve had plenty sightings of those recently too.

Kestrel – Falco tinnunculus

The first Buzzard I’ll have a go at ageing will be this one that I photographed today soaring over the field, and saw displaying over Blackford Hill yesterday. Awesome watching them go into that full stoop then slight pull-up, then into a stoop again.


The first thing that is obvious is that this bird is missing a couple of primaries (P6+7?) and if you read my previous post on Buzzards, you’ll know that there’s a local Buzzard that I knew which was missing primaries. Is this common in Buzzards? Something I’ll keep an eye out for.

Right, from what I already know, this is an adult as it has a fairly parallel/straight wing-shape, with the nice dark trailing edge and the square-shaped tail. Easy enough, however, I want to take this a little further.

With all those features so clear, I reckon that rules out 2CY as then it would show some plumage details that would say juvenile, such as a slight lack in the dark trailing edge. This means it’s either 3CY or 4CY+.

I’ve read here, on Geoff’s blog, that adults tend to have longer inner primaries. That may explain the missing primaries as this bird could be moulting into it’s 4CY, with those average length inner primaries having just fallen out. Confusing stuff this moulting…

Next Buzzard…


I reckon I’d go for straight up 4CY+ bird on this one. All the adult features are there pretty clearly…

Here’s that same bird being mobbed by a posse of Carrion Crows.


Last thing on Buzzards, these two (and another) were all submitted to ButeoMorph, and it seems I’m currently responsible for 4 out of 5 ButeoMorph reports from Scotland! Come on, we’ve got to do better than that, plus it’s easy and will no doubt produce interesting results at the end of the study!


I’ll finish off with a quick round-up of how my Braids n’ Blackford Patchwork Challenge is going. Since I’ve been back in Edinburgh, I’ve added 15 species.These include:

  • 2 falcons, Peregrine and Merlin, both 2 pointers
  • Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Pink-footed Goose all vismigged whilst looking for Ospreys
  • And wee things like Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper and Tawny Owl

Speaking of Tawny Owl, I managed to find a pellet whilst scrambing about on the rocks in the quarry. Soon to be dissected!




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