As every year, this spring I have spent a few days observing raptors around… a bit of different kinds: imperial and golden eagles, and some other species...
One of these days, I had enough hope for a good result. I had put a freshly dead rabbit bait and was well prepared with a camouflaged hide. Not far is a nest of imperial eagles, which both in their hunting prospection as well as in their in an out flights, often pass near or directly above ... I have also frequently observed a couple of goshawks with which the Imperials are usually stiff and leading to a curious spectacle of fights and claws.
To make the attempt more promising, various species of crows are commonly seen in the area... and I know of no better way to attract raptors that if you have these allies.
So early in the morning, at just the break of day, after tying the "bait" on a log in which it was clearly visible, I entered the hide of military fabrics, about 20 meters away, oriented in such way that the light allowed a good observation while dazzling the birds if looking at me.
The early spring morning was beautiful, fresh and bright and a gentle breeze was moving the leaves ... While time began to pass... just some tits and finches happened to be in sight.
Almost two hours had to pass before crows were interested by the rabbit. First one, then another ... Things started to be promising but yet, a few minutes later they went as they had come ... leaving me alone again, later than half past nine and quite skeptical.
From the hide it is difficult to know what goes beyond the field of vision ... so whether the imperial had passed or not, I do not know. I continued waiting and while in the distance the barking of dogs was heard, I could also hear the squawk of the imperial. They were not far away ... probably the one in the nest and the other in an perch ... until the crows appeared again ... This time a magpie.
It first landed in a little tree in front of me ... nervous, throwing its typical squawk which must be heard at quite a distance and promising not only to attract more magpies, but any other more interesting bird’s attention. Within minutes, the magpie decided to inspect the attractive bait without reluctance and quickly fumbled with the legs, then the peak and finally, with a wing helped odd balance, began to eat.
Sometimes when stalking, nothing may happen for hours, who knows, sometimes all day and then suddenly they are triggered and indeed, to the call of the magpie and confidence and relish eating the rabbit, azure magpies happened to come.
Azure magpies are often the last crows that precede the appearance of raptors and soon after their presence, a buzzard appeared. It was not the expected imperial nor the goshawk. In fact I had neither often seen buzzards in the area, but the fact is, I had one right there in front.
It was over ten o'clock and I had been sitting there waiting for about three hours. The buzzard didn’t either hesitate. He began to tear meat pieces off the rabbit, whilst standing and peering from side to side bites it, scanning for any cause of alarm. After a few minutes, perhaps having broken the threads with which I had held the bait to the trunk, the buzzard decided he could take his " prey" to a more secure, hidden and intimate place, where to eat more peacefully... That way, the buzzard left, taking what was left of the rabbit and putting an end to the show.
For an ethical reason I frequently do not repeat the sites where baits are placed. I have a lot of alternatives which give good results and I sure have less time than I would spend ... and baits are not usually a problem during half of the year, when temperatures allow to keep them for several days ...