Our first attempt at studying the migrations of honey buzzards from northern Scotland was started this year and was very interesting. Disappointingly, we were unable to catch the adults, which would probably have given us more reliable information on their wintering grounds in West Africa as well as the migration routes of the adult birds. However, the young birds gave us much important information, especially on the fortunes of late hatching young.  Both chicks stayed near their nests for about two weeks before migrating in a south-west direction.

Chick 1 (21252)

Annual Movements

Chick 21252 was still near its nest on 7th September and on the next radio transmission date, 14th September, we received the first signal of this bird’s migration from the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula.  It moved slowly down through the western side of England and on 23rd October, a signal was received from NW of Cartagena in Murcia on the SE coast of Spain. On 25th there were two afternoon reports from the Mediterranean Sea just north of the Moroccan coast and by late afternoon it had made landfall near the Algerian & Moroccan border. Two days later it was further west and south in northern Morocco. No further signals were received and there is a possibility the radio failed.

Reproductive History

Chick 1 did not reach breeding age during our studies.


Chick 2

Annual Movements

The younger bird crossed to Ireland and spent a month there before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean on 29th October.   Again the radio stopped transmitting and we do not know whether it reached Spain or it died at sea.  This data revealed the risks to late nesting honey buzzards, especially Northern Scottish birds.  However, its appearance in Ireland caused much excitement amongst local birdwatchers, as buzzards are rarely seen there.

Jim Fitzharris  sent me the following official list of Irish sightings of Honey Buzzards between 1950 and 2000, which shows how rare the species is in Ireland.

1965: One, Abbeyleix (Laois), 9th July; shot; Ruttledge (1966); Adult male; Castle Caulfield (Tyrone), 15th April; shot; specimen in Ulster Museum.

1972: One, Cape Clear (Cork), 23rd August.

1992: One, Ballinskelligs (Kerry), 27th May.

1994: One, near Moira (Antrim), 14th May.

2000: One, Cape Clear (Cork), 25th-26th September; One, St. John’s Point (Down), 30th September.

Reproductive History

Chick 2 did not reach breeding age during our studies.