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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Buzzard giving cyclists the bird
(Photo copyright: Apex)
The buzzard dives on cyclist Paul Dixon (Photo: APEX)
An angry buzzard is being blamed for a spate of attacks on cyclists in Devon.

In one incident, the bird struck a rider on the back of the head as she pedalled on the A3072 at Stapleton Corner near Holsworthy.

Experts believe the buzzard - which can weigh up to 1kg and have a one-metre wingspan - may be protecting a nest.

Emma Parkin, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said painting large eye shapes on cycling helmets may repel the bird.

Ms Parkin said: "They are beautiful birds and are very common in Devon.

"They are normally very timid, but this one appears to have lost its fear of man and clearly must have a nest close by which it is protecting."

Linda Johnston, a member of the Devon branch of the Cyclists' Touring Club, was cycling the route on Wednesday evening when she was struck on the back of the head by the buzzard.
Bill Oddie is in the vicinity at the moment, perhaps we should ask him what to do about it
Roy Smith, Ruby Run 2004

She said: "After it hit me I could see it hovering and thought it was going to come back, so I speeded up and got away as quick as I could.

"It really did hurt and gave me a fright.

"It is quite dangerous, it could make someone lose their balance and fall off ".

Map of A3072
Similar attacks were reported on the road this time last year

A local cycling club is due to carry out a time trial on the route on Sunday morning and the Ruby Run 2004, a half marathon from Hatherleigh to Holsworthy, will take place on Sunday with up to 200 runners and walkers expected.

One of the race organisers, Roy Smith, said the buzzard appeared to be targeting cyclists rather than runners.

He said: "It's hard to know what to do, I don't think we should cancel the event but we will warn people to watch out for it.

"But it does seem to be avoiding people on two legs and going for those on two wheels.

"Bill Oddie is in the vicinity at the moment, perhaps we should ask him what to do about it."

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