A wonderful birthday surprise

Common Buzzard in Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary

 It was my birthday on Monday and so I wasn't that surprised when a friend called at my home on Baronsdown after work. However, when I opened the door I was surprised to see him stood there with a common buzzard cradled in his arms. It was a real privilege to see such a magnificent bird at close quarters. Its eyes shone brightly like beads of amber and its hooked beak looked as sharp as any kitchen knife; and what amazing talons! Something clearly wasn't right, though, but apart from a small piece of flesh protruding from a split in the bird's crop, it looked in prime condition. We managed to get the buzzard into a carrying box and I phoned the RSPCA wildlife centre at West Hatch to check that someone would be on duty before I drove over to them. On arrival at the centre the buzzard was immediately sedated and examined by the trained RSPCA staff. Unfortunately, the buzzard had sustained a broken shoulder and it would never be able to fly again and so the kindest thing to do was to end its suffering.

It transpired that the buzzard was one of two birds that had been feasting on a dead pheasant in the middle of the road next to Baronsdown, when they too became the victims of yet another road traffic collision. One buzzard was killed outright, but the driver had left the other one stunned and standing in the road. Without the caring actions of my friend, the buzzard may have dragged itself off to die slowly from its injuries or from starvation.

This came just a week or so after the same friend had knocked on my door at just after 7am, to say someone had hit and killed a young stag and had left the body lying in the road. The stag was in prime condition, with no outward signs of injury, and it must have weighed 95kg or more. With some considerable effort we managed to get the dead stag onto the back of a pick-up and moved it out of the road. A post mortem examination revealed severe internal injuries consistent with being hit hard by a large vehicle.

Wildlife is under attack on all fronts. If it isn't the hunters with their dogs or the gamekeepers and farmers with their guns, traps, snares and poisons, it is road traffic taking its toll. It is no wonder that we are seeing a decline in the numbers of so many species. This is why safe, quiet places, such as the League's wildlife sanctuaries, are vital to provide havens for wildlife.
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