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Return of the Honey Buzzard to Northumbria? (1 Viewer)

Andrew Rowlands

Well-known member
Hi all,

As a result of a previous thread :-
I would like to have members help to dissect the paper written by Nick Rossiter "Return of the Honey Buzzard" published in Birds in Northumbria 2001.

Bad luck for the Photoshop experts though, no photos in it!

I would like someone to post an electronic (scanned?) version of it for reference (my scanner is u/s), it would be a shame to waste £7.50 on an article that may be fatally flawed!

Note :- the desired object is not to ridicule the author, but to ascertain whether this proves breeding in Northumbria and perhaps stimulate a full survey of potential areas within that County.

For decades the true status of the Honey Buzzard in Britain has been clouded by misinformation and secrecy.

My fellow Honey observers, throughout Britain, have worked hard to undo this and show the true status of this species.

For those who submitted records on the influx of Honeys a few Autumns ago - re-read the previous thread and study the photos - if then, you are not sure of your records - come clean! (yet another thread ?).

Looking forward to a clean thread,

Last edited:
Whilst we wait for a posting of the paper, I'll kick-off.

In the first paragraph (preamble and history?), the author states "...Honey Buzzard and Goshawk ....require large forested territories...".

Whilst this may be generally true, there is a study which shows that the Goshawk can be successful in territories of about 50/50 woodland/farmland. This is mirrored in my home county where Goshawks can be successful in very small strips of woodland, the females especially, do not seem to be averse to hunting across open countryside.
(The refererence is from an on-line summary of a Continental study into territory spacing in Honey and Common Buzzard and Goshawk).

So ..it seems to start with assumptions rather than facts. Not good enough!

Over to you....


In searching for my earlier reference:-

Gamauf, Anita (1988): Hierarchische Ordnung in der Wahl der Nistplatz- [Nistplatzhabitate] und Jagdhabitate dreier sympatrischer Greifvogelarten (Buteo buteo, Pernis apivorus, Accipiter gentilis).

.........is I beleive the original languge version (yet to find url).

Also Googled:-

Hunting behaviour of Northern Goshawks Accipiter gentilis in the city of Hamburg, Germany.
Observing hunting Northern Goshawks in natural habitats is extremely difficult due to the species' secretive foraging behaviour. Recently, Goshawks colonized the city of Hamburg, Germany. Pairs nest in public parks and private gardens, and are remarkably tolerant towards human disturbance. Favourable conditions iallowed us to collect a comparatively large sample of chance observations. No kill was observed for the adult male of an urban breeding pair (n = 28 hunts). For three hunts, however, a kill out of sight was very likely, giving an estimated success rate of 11%. The male regularly used a power-line post for perch-hunting (70%). In hunts observed in a public park (n = 34), 56% were stoops well above the trees, and two attacks were successful (6%). Similarly, 84% of all hunting flights in a residential area (n = 61 were flown at heights between 30-150 m. In 82% of these cases, attacks were launched at flying feral pigeons. Our results indicate that urban Goshawks regularly use techniques other than the sit-and-wait hunting predominantly shown by their rural counterparts. Unfortunately, we cannot assess the importance of individual hunting techniques, as our sample is probably biased towards conspicuous hunts occurring out of cover. This view is supported by results from an extensive radio-monitoring study in Hamburg (n = 295 hunts for 3 tagged males).

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K.

Volunteer to track down/translate the first?


might be difficult to extrapolate from one country to another re bird behaviour. Hawfinches are very tame in morocco say but quite wary here. At least in recent history gos was generally thought by all to need large wooded areas - not really fair to put the boot in on this one! i seem to rember a bb paper from the eighties that went about u.k. birds being disturbed from quite a distance contra the hamburg data given above

Would that be the 'anonymous' paper with the pen and ink drawings - Breeding Biology of Goshawks in Lowland Britain - or similar?


Tim Allwood said:
might be difficult to extrapolate from one country to another re bird behaviour. Hawfinches are very tame in morocco say but quite wary here. At least in recent history gos was generally thought by all to need large wooded areas - not really fair to put the boot in on this one! i seem to rember a bb paper from the eighties that went about u.k. birds being disturbed from quite a distance contra the hamburg data given above

Same applies to a lot of UK raptors, they are understandably timid here (compared to elsewhere in their ranges) because of the intensity of persecution they have suffered.

On a far more local scale, it is conspicuous to see the differences in timidity in ducks (even the same individuals!) between areas where they know people don't shoot, and areas regularly shot over

satrow said:
Would that be the 'anonymous' paper with the pen and ink drawings - Breeding Biology of Goshawks in Lowland Britain - or similar?

I remember this paper, and had no trouble identifying the study area concerned from the descriptions given of the habitat!

Gos here also resident in suburban situations so long as there is a wooded park or similar nearby. I've got one or a pair in my patch, and 2 sightings on my yard list.
In that case , Tim, I Know some of the areas involved (and also some of the birds).

The authors were concerned then because of the possibility of the birds being targetted by ne'er-do-wells and were very cautious in their wording. One of the females was quite vociferous if she heard or saw anyone within maybe 80 yards or so of the nest tree. This sort of reaction could easily lead to an easy acquisition by an egger or death by keeper.

At the time of the first paper the extent of the recolonisation was poorly understood. If it was purely local then the population could have been under threat of extinction within a few years.


Cheers, Tim,

I would like all of us to be able to appreciate them and encourage them. If your average birder can't recognise them then what chance the 'keeper sparing them?

All Buzzards even the Common Buzzards are wonderful to watch, I watch a family when I go up to the Lakes each year. Here in Cheshire I have a single Buzzard that has been flying around when allowed to by the local Corvid population, I just wish it would find a mate and take up permanent residency. We have quite a few densely wooded areas, plus a lot of open farmland around, he has been soaring in the thermals over the airfield during the summer months. Not seen him this week, but it is really wet and dismal even my Lapwing population have disappeared but we have had some flying last week (aircraft activity that is).
I think one reason why Gos will nest in small pieces of wood is the size of the population,we have recently discovered the first
breeding goshawk in the New Forest (Real ones that is!!!)and at the moment the theyare obviously in large stands of woodland,but Gos are prolific breeders and i`m sure when the population grows birds will move into the smaller pieces,also they have no option but tolerate the disturbance, i once visited a site in clump of Douglas fir(funny enough with the author of the paper mentioned earlier)to our horror we found the clump was 60-70% felled
and machinery all over the place,but after a short search an active nest was found,the birds simply had nowhere to go as they were surrounded by occupied territories.

If you've not seen him and it's been raining, he's probably on the deck after worms :)

Concentrate on the Honeys, Wayne, those Gos are much too distracting :)

Good Morning All,

Hello again,

Nick Rossiter claims the first recent breeding record for Honey Buzzard based on a sighting on the 21st of September (3rd full para p.171 Birds in Northumbria 2001), of a bird, which may indeed have been a juvenile H. B., flying into a wood. The nest was not apparently looked for.

Compare this with http://www.roydennis.org/honeybuzzard.htm links to migration routes 2001, 2002 and 2003. This would seem to suggest that a juv. H.B. seen after the second week of September is unlikely to be at the natal site.

Therefore, for Nick to claim this as proof of breeding is erroneous.

To illustrate how difficult HB's are and show how little we know of them;- I have been involved in 'studying' an area, where since 1996, up to 5 HB's have been seen throughout the spring and summer. Despite making concerted efforts involving, at times, 4 observers at various viewpoints, we still aren't in a position to claim that they 'may' be breeding. A juv present on the 21st of September would NOT be enough to convince any of us.


Hi all
firstly, I now accept that I, for one, have misidentified HB's in the past. I fell for the one ID aspect makes it certain trap. My list now ticks probable HB's (One at Swanton Novers, One at Strumpshaw), and is therefore one less than it was.
On Goshawk, I did not realise they were so rare in Hampshire. I saw 2 displaying at a new forest site in March. It may have been the same site as wpercy was referring. Would you e mail me to confirm.

wpercy said:
Stringer, quite new to this site,also not to clever on the computor,so dont how to send you a private message.if you like you E-mail me ... [email protected] cheers Wayne.

Quite easy. Underneath every post there are four green buttons related to the author of the above post... just click on the one marked 'PM' and you'll get a text input box to write you private message to the author, then hit reply to send.

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