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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Buzzard dies dive-bombing a van
(Photo copyright: Apex)
The buzzard dives on cyclist Paul Dixon (Photo: APEX)
An angry buzzard which was blamed for more than 20 attacks on cyclists on a country road in Devon has died after dive-bombing a van.

The RSPB said the aggressive bird of prey was accidentally killed on Wednesday when it swooped on the vehicle near Holsworthy.

Experts believe the buzzard - which has a 1m wingspan - could have been protecting a nest.

The bird had been swooping on cyclists, gouging holes in their helmets.

Emma Parkin from the RSPB said the driver of the van that hit the bird had reported the accident immediately.

She said it was unusual for buzzards to attack humans, which suggested it had once been in captivity.

She said: "It was just being a good parent, although it was probably rather too enthusiastic."

There is probably a single parent buzzard flying around now
Emma Parkin, RSPB

She said it was likely the buzzard was one of a pair and the surviving bird would now care for the chicks.

"There is probably a single parent buzzard flying around now, I hope that's the case.

"The chicks should be pretty robust by now anyway, but this will definitely mean their chances of survival have diminished."

Retired toolmaker Paul Dixon, 71, North Devon secretary of the Cyclists Touring Club, was among those who fell victim to the buzzard on the A3072 between Brandis Corner and Anvil Corner.

He was not wearing a cycle helmet when the angry bird swooped on him on one occasion - he was left with blood pouring from three scratches on his head.

All 22 competitors in two long-distance cycle races were also attacked at the same spot nearly a fortnight ago.

The attacks forced a time trial and another scheduled bike ride to be re-routed last weekend.


SEE ALSO:
Postman copes with bird attacks
05 Mar 04  |  Devon
Seagull-attacked posties cover up
25 Jun 03  |  Scotland


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