If you've been following the blog over the last 6 months or so, you'll have seen me post some articles about making a wildlife trail camera from a Raspberry Pi micro computer. I'll admit, I had no idea what I was doing when I started out but as you'll see from the footage from the buzzard hide below, the results are actually pretty good.
Trail cameras are an extraordinarily useful tool for finding wildlife but with a hefty price tag they can put you off if you're on a budget. I had 2 previous cameras stolen so I wanted to see if I could create something similar for cheaper. Check out the how-to guides for all the details.
The footage below is from the buzzard hide on 3 March 2017. I had an upcoming booking, so rather than put a large amount of food down, I provided only a small quantity to keep the buzzards interested. It's important to note that I never provide food in a regular pattern (on the same days of the week or at the same time, etc). To have the birds become habituated or reliant on the food would be dangerous to their welfare so I try to keep my activity as random as possible. Of course, the trade off is that patterns in the buzzard's behaviour is difficult to spot but it's the price you pay when putting the subject first.
After years of working with these birds, it is hard not to feel like a bond exists but the anthropomorphism of animals is subject for another post! As you can see from the video, the birds were close by, probably alerted by the magpies that are always quick to spot me when I walk down the field, and came down to eat only a few minutes after I had left.
The footage features two separate buzzards. I believe these two to be a pair although the colouration on the first bird is a lot lighter then the second, which is indicative of a juvenile bird. The second buzzard is much darker with the plumage typical of an adult bird. Although both birds are not in the frame together, you'll see the first buzzard had a lot more mottling on its wings and the elongate feathers that cover its legs compared to the second bird. The first bird has a very distinctive 'croaky' voice which is a lot less clean and lower in tone than a typical buzzard's cry making it very easy to identify but while there is no microphone on the trail cam to record it, you'll just have to take my word for it - or come to the hide and hear for yourself!