Friday, 23 April 2010

Where are all the Leverets?

This spring Derek has been ploughing ground in preparation for planting peas over the next few weeks on the brash land at the top of Bredon hill. He commented to me earlier in the week that he hasn't seen many leverets (young hares) this year. Another comment he made was that he was ploughing in the warren field, which is about 50 acres and he was being followed by 21 Buzzards, yes you heard me correctly 21!! That is just over 1 buzzard to the hectare. I think that there might be a link between the two. Obviously the buzzards need to feed on something, were they being attracted by the thoughts of juicy worms, I suspect they were when we are ploughing but what about afterwards? We know that there are fewer rabbits this year, (myxomatosis has killed a lot) so what else do they feed on, the odd vole, or mouse maybe a rat or two but I suspect that a nice young leveret in the middle of an arable field makes a much tastier and easier snack. When do we draw a line under some of these species and say right, we need to start managing them before the balance is turned too far in one direction or another?

1 comment:

Overbury said...

Since returning to the area three years ago, I have also noted a decline in the number of hares - and a rise in the number of birds of prey.

22 years ago, when I first lived near Bredon Hill, sightings of buzzards were rare. Today they are commonplace and numbers of other birds of prey appear to be in the ascendency; only a month ago I saw a Red Kite in Crashmore Lane, unmistakable with its forked tail.
These raptors hardly existed outside central Wales until comparatively recently.

I have also spotted peregrine falcons, merlins and harriers - all of which are capable of taking small mammals. Leaving the larger ones for the buzzards!

Nature is full of swings and roundabouts; hopefully, with the assistance of astute land management such as that employed at Overbury, the balance will be restored.

Bredon Hill remains a haven for wildlife. A nature lovers paradise with something new to see every day; rarely have I walked a footpath without noting something new, a deer crossing the way or a migrant bird passing overhead.

Finally, just for the record, when I returned home this evening there was a leveret sitting on the verge just south of Conderton Chase - so all will come right in the end!