A rare Honey Buzzard brought into the Bird of Prey Hospital at the Hawk Conservancy Trust

PUBLISHED: 13:08 15 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:17 20 February 2013

A rare Honey Buzzard brought into the Bird of Prey Hospital at the Hawk Conservancy Trust

A rare Honey Buzzard brought into the Bird of Prey Hospital at the Hawk Conservancy Trust

A rare Honey Buzzard brought into the Bird of Prey Hospital at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire has made its return migration to Africa by aeroplane.<br/><br/><br/><br/>The juvenile bird had suffered a fractured wing and was taken to the specialist facility

Rare Honey Buzzard migrates to Africa by aeroplane!


A rare Honey Buzzard brought into the Bird of Prey Hospital at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire has made 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, explained the Honey Buzzard winters in Africa and comes to the UK to breed in the summer. This young bird is in its first year and after migrating to Africa, in August, 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 arranged the flight and the release site in the Gambia.


Natalie Ford, Commercial Development & Support Manager, said when we received the call from the Trust we were more than happy to help. We specialise in wildlife and bird watching trips in the Gambia, where Honey Buzzards are found, and have staff who are experienced rangers and wildlife guides. They identified a suitable area, with the right habitat, for the release of the Honey Buzzard. We were glad to help him to find his way home.


The Honey Buzzard flew from Birmingham International Airport, via Redcoat Express Pet Travel, and Trust staff who accompanied the bird to Africa were pleased that the journey was uneventful and that the export paperwork from the UK and import documentation into Gambia was all in order.


Kim Kirkbride, Head of Section for the Bird of Prey Hospital, said we were met at Banjul airport by Gambian wildlife expert Malick Suso, who took us into Kinpanti, Foni region, for the release. Considering the bird had travelled over 3,000 miles inside a specially constructed travel crate, he was in very good condition and keen to be off! He hopped out of the crate, flew onto a tussock and sat for a few moments to get his bearings. He then flew up into a tree and then flew off and away. It was a wonderful moment to see him return to the wild.


Wildlife rangers in the Gambia have pledged to track the bird, if it stays in the area, and report back to the Hawk Conservancy Trust with information about its progress. The Honey Buzzard was given a set of leg rings by Trust staff, which will also help identification when the bird returns to the UK to breed.


Curator, Andy Hinton, continued there has been such a remarkable response to the plight of this bird. We are so very grateful to the companies, agencies and individuals, both in the UK and the Gambia, who have made such a huge effort to return this bird to his home.


www.hawkconservancy.org


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