Birds of Prey in Pembrokeshire
The word raptor comes from a Latin word, rapere, meaning “to seize, snatch, tear away; to plunder a place”. It is a general term used to cover all birds of prey.
The wild open skies and the unspoilt lands below provide an ideal habitat for birds of prey and it is a common sight to see them soaring and swooping above us. On any road trip along the lanes and byways of our county you will spot buzzards on the telegraph poles and gateposts and, away from the roads, kestrel can often be spotted along fields and woodland edges. Yet more spectacular and awe-inspiring is to spot a red kite high above you and to marvel at its grace and beauty.
Buzzard – buteo buteo
Once threatened, protection measures have ensured that the buzzard is now more widespread, although this far west is still a stronghold for these magnificant hunters. Members of the hawk and eagle family, the buzzard thrives on eating mammals, birds, carrion and worms and has a surprising mew-like cry. There are new concerns about its long-term protection as some EU laws are under threat in England, following demands from gamekeepers.
Kestrel – falco tinnunculus
Much smaller and unfortunately still on the Amber list for needing conservation, the kestrel is another Pembrokeshire resident. Famed for its pointed wings and long tail, the kestrel is easy to identify. With a diet of mammals, particularly voles, and birds, the kestrel benefits from our unspoilt countryside but still has a worrying mortality rate. Many do not make adulthood and those that do rarely live more than 5 years. Starvation and poisoning are the main causes of death. Click here for a previous article from last winter featuring a sudden kestrel death – beware, it includes a video of the kestrel’s last moments.
Red Kite – milvus milvus
The longest running protection programme ever has succeeded in saving the red kite from extinction. In the 1960s only 20 pairs remained in the wild and all progeny from the same female. Under EU law the red kite was afforded special status and the conservation programmes in mid West Wales ensured that the red kite is now secure and more widely distributed. Most often spotted in north Pembrokeshire, there have been increasing sightings as far south as the St David’s Head peninsula. These graceful and exquisitely marked birds of prey exhibit dazzling aerial displays.
All photography from Tim Porter.
Music by Rob Starkey.