First for Suffolk farmers

Farming cousins have notched up an environmental milestone after ringing a buzzard in the county for the first time in 10 years.

SUFFOLK: Farming cousins have notched up an environmental milestone after ringing a buzzard in the county for the first time in 10 years.

Patrick Barker, and cousin Brian, who run a family arable farm at Westhorpe, near Stowmarket, have introduced a raft of environmental measures aimed at attracting wildlife including birds to the site.

Their efforts paid off when a pair of common buzzards decided to nest at the farm after the species was first sighted there at the end of 2007.

“I feel this represents success on two fronts, firstly for buzzards as their movement eastwards is well documented but their establishment of a breeding territory over 'normal' Suffolk farmland is pleasing,” said Patrick.

Since starting a Higher Level Stewardship scheme at the farm, the cousins have recorded 89 birds on their farm list.

After the first sighting, the buzzards became regular visitors, said Patrick.

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“Sightings started to become more regular and by August although I had no firm evidence I was fairly confident that they had bred and then towards the end of August I was able to watch an adult repeatedly dropping into the wood followed by a juvenile in what looked like a flying and hunting lesson,” he said.

By that winter and the following spring, it became clear the pair had taken up residence and on May 1, 2009, Patrick discovered the nest up an oak tree.

“We were able to record a single egg on May 15, a freshly hatched chick on May 21, and on June 8 I ringed the first buzzard in Suffolk since 1999 and only the third ever in the county,” he said.

“Their presence while searching for the food left out, especially on freshly-drilled oilseed rape fields, has proved to be a much cheaper and quieter pigeon deterrent than bangers.”