Inishowen buzzard project takes flight

A buzzard chick is tagged for the Inishowen project.
A buzzard chick is tagged for the Inishowen project.

An “exciting” new research project, which focuses on Inishowen’s buzzard population, has begun in earnest in the peninsula.

The Inishowen Buzzard Project recently tagged eight of the birds of prey in an initiative which is the first of its kind in Donegal.

The buzzard, or clámhan in Irish, is a medium sized bird of prey, often seen soaring above the peninsula’s skies, and has a distinctive ‘mewing’ call.

Inishowen has a large buzzard population, due to its plentiful habitat.

Recently, a team of ecologists from the Inishowen Raptor Study Group and the Northern Irish Raptor Study Group began an exciting research project in Inishowen to study the native buzzard population on the peninsula.

Buzzard nests were visited across Inishowen and chicks were given wing tags, under licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The tags - which do not hurt them - allow birds to be identified from a distance using binoculars.

The birds have a yellow tag with a letter on the right wing and a black tag with a letter on the left. It is planned that this project will go on for several years, with new birds tagged every year.

A spokesperson for the group said this would allow them to “build up” a picture how our birds are doing here and what they are up to.

The buzzard is brown in colour, with pale patches underneath and its wings have broad ‘fingered’ ends.

It’s described as a versatile predator; feeding on rabbits, rodents, frogs, birds and carrion.

In winter, when times are harder, they tend to feed mainly on earthworms or other large insects.

Buzzards became extinct from Ireland in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries here.

The chicks will leave the nest shortly and any sightings of the tagged birds are extremely valuable to the project.

Residents across Inishowen are urged to report any sightings.

If you see a tagged bird take note of tag colours, the letter on tag, the location and date. Sightings were letters cannot be read are still useful. Sightings can be sent to Michael McLaughlin at inishowenbuzzards@gmail.com