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Buzzard

Apart from the Golden Eagle, the Buzzard is Irelands biggest raptor. Buzzards were extinct in Ireland by the early 20th centaury mainly due to the poisoning of carrion by gamekeepers and farmers. In the 1930s they returned from Scotland and started breeding again only to be wiped out in the mid-60s because of the introduction of Myxomatosis, which killed off 95% of their main prey, rabbits. However, once again they started to naturally re-colonise Northern Ireland possibly thanks to the banning of strychnine poison that was used to bait carrion. When the Republic of Ireland banned strychnine in 1991 the birds started spreading south so that we now have breeding birds pretty much nation-wide. Buzzards feed on agricultural pests such as rabbits, rodents and rooks, as well as carrion - they do not take live lambs or other livestock. At least two pair breed in the area of Cooley, one in the woodland visible in the distance from the Quay wall. In spring they may be seen wheeling high up in the sky often in groups of 4 or more but usually you will see a Buzzard sitting quietly on a post watching for prey.