There was a great buzz in Fermoyle National School this morning as pupils and teachers gathered for the release of a bird of prey they had previously rescued and passed on to the ISPCA for rehabilitation.
The buzzard was found on September 21. It had gotten caught on a barbed wire fence after diving from the sky to catch its prey and was in obvious distress.
Conservation Ranger for County Longford Sue Moles was called immediately and arrived at the school to find that the staff had managed to release the bird from the fence but, with an injured wing, the bird was in a distressed state.
"The centre now has a rehabilitation facility which can accommodate wildlife," she told the Longford Leader.
"This is a real blessing here in the Midlands as before this facility opened, I was trying to transport injured animals to Kildare for first aid. Kelly Hynes from the ISPCA took the Buzzard in and we assessed the damage. It had puncture wounds on one wing from the wire fence, but no bone or ligament damage. The bird was dehydrated which is very common amongst injured raptures. Fluids and anti-biotics were administered and the wing was immobilised whilst he recovered."
Luckily for the buzzard, a full recovery was made and the beautiful bird was fit for release at the school this morning.
"The common buzzard is a medium-sized rapture which measures between 40 and 58 cm in height with a wingspan of over a meter," said Ms Moles.
"This broad-winged bird can have a wide variety of colours to his plumage, but it is usually shades of brown, with a pale 'necklace' of feathers in Ireland.
"Buzzard breed in woodlands, usually on the fringes, but like to go hunting over open land. A great opportunist, it eats mainly worms, insects and frogs as well as small mammals, and will feed from carrion (dead animals). Buzzards can often be seen walking over recently ploughed fields looking for worms and insects."
In fact, she said, both the ISPCA and the NPWS regularly receive calls from concerned members of the public about a young buzzard in Corlea, which has taken to feeding works in the short grass at the side of the road.
"He actually lands on the grass and then taps his feet to make it sound like it's raining, so that the worms will come to the surface," Sue explained.
"We regularly get phone calls about this bird asking if he is OK as his behaviour is quite unusual. He would appear to be fighting fit - we check on him regularly."
Buzzards are fiercely territorial, and, though rare, fights do break out if one strays onto another pair's territory, but dominant displays of aggression will normally see off the interloper.
Pairs mate for life and, to attract a mate (or impress his existing mate) the male performs a ritual aerial display before the beginning of spring.
"This spectacular display is known as 'the roller coaster'. He will rise high up in the sky, to turn and plummet downward, in a spiral, twisting and turning as he comes down," said Sue.
"He then rises immediately upward to repeat the exercise. This makes them very easy to spot in the sky during the spring. Look out for these spectacular birds as they have increased in numbers in recent years and can now be seen gracing the sky in most parts of Longford during warm weather.
"They circle the skies riding the thermals and rarely need to flap their wings during fine weather. Magnificent birds."
As can be seen from the video above, the buzzard was in extremely good condition, thanks to the help of the school staff and pupils, the ISPCA and Sue Moles.
And, as he flew off, the ISPCA representatives packed up his cage and prepared to head off on their next wild bird rescue mission: a Kestral with a broken wing.