A rare Honey Buzzard brought into the Bird of Prey Hospital at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire is to make its return migration to Africa by aeroplane.
The juvenile bird had suffered a fractured wing and was taken to the specialist facility, run by the charity, for treatment. However, due to the nature of the injury and the length of its recovery to full health, the unfortunate bird missed his migratory window.
Curator, Andy Hinton, explains ‘the Honey Buzzard winters in Africa and comes to the UK to breed in the summer. This young male is in his first year and after migrating to Africa, in August, he would not be expected to return to breed until his third year. This left us with a bit of a dilemma. We were faced with the choice of keeping him at the hospital for at least two years or finding a way of helping him to follow his expected migration pattern. These birds have a very specialised diet and it was inconceivable to keep him in captivity all that time so we decided to fly him home using modern aviation methods.’
The Trust have been assisted in repatriating the Buzzard by travel firm, The Gambia Experience, who have arranged the flight and the release site in West Africa.
Natalie Ford, Commercial Development & Support Manager, said ‘when we received the call from the Trust we were more than happy to help. We offer specialist birdwatching trips in The Gambia, where Honey Buzzards are found, and employ experienced wildlife guides. They have identified a suitable area, with the right habitat, for the release of the Honey Buzzard, which has been arranged for early November. We wish him every success in finding his way home.’