AN EXPLOSION in the number of hungry buzzards is being blamed for a resulting decline in the numbers of small birds and animals in Wexford.
Farmer Tom Whelan said he was convinced buzzards were to blame and not the cold weather.
'I noticed more buzzards on my land last September and they are still here,' he said.
Tom said that beneath a buzzard he recently saw perched on a post were the decaying remains of four small bird.
'I saw buzzards on two pieces of land and didn't see a rabbit there... these lads have moved five or six hundred yards further on and now everything is disappearing,' he said. Tom said he used to have large numbers of small birds on his land including pied wagtails and yellow hammers and often left a shed open so they could get a good feed if they wanted it.'
'You don't see many small birds anymore, but I used to get lots.'
BirdWatch Ireland says breeding buzzards are found mainly in the north and east of country, north of a line from Sligo to Wexford.
Buzzards nest in trees and sometimes on cliffs, usually with access to open land including farmland, moorland and wetland. The species was absent in Ireland from the late nineteenth century until 1933, when a pair bred in Antrim. The species has spread slowly down from the north.
Its diet includes a wide variety of prey items including small mammals, birds, rabbits, insects, earthworms and amphibians