Tuesday 13 June 2017

Death in the nest... blow flies and buzzards

Our bird population is probably at it's peak about now. Hamsa is out from dawn to dusk looking for nests, filming and photographing.  

Buzzard five weeks old ?
Yesterday he was filming a buzzard nestling at the nest with it's parents. It looked normal and healthy. This morning when he went back the nestling was dead and heaving with blow fly maggots. At this time of year we have to keep a close watch on the sheep for blow flies. The lay their eggs under the tail. When the maggots hatch they burrow under the skin to suck the animal's blood.

I wasn't aware that birds were plagued by blow flies , until today. A well adapted parasite doesn't kill it's host, that is not in the parasite's long term interest but in this case there must have been a massive infestation.

Raptor nests are pretty unhygienic places, the parents bring in dead animals and bits of carrion in various stages of decomposition with their associated flies and beetles, then their are the mites and lice also present on birds. Presumably blow flies just "blow in".

Probably a meadow pipit
Walking down from the hill we then picked up a dead but perfectly formed meadow pipit nestling probably dropped by a nest raider.

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