Dead Lizard Mystery

Flanders Moss NNR


Sometimes it takes a little time and a bit of observation to start to get an understanding of what is going on on the Moss.

A couple of weeks back when I was counting belly button fluff (Rannoch brindled beauty moths see here) and looking at a lot of fence posts I made an interesting discovery. 2 large adult lizards, dead, stuffed in a cavity on the top of a fence post. They were intact, but with a few small puncture wounds (I was feeling a bit like someone in “Silent Witness” – didn’t get as far as finding out what their last meal was). They seemed quite fresh so obviously something has caught them and cached them to eat for another day. But what?


Then a couple of days ago I was watching the pair of buzzards that nest near to the viewing tower and one was doing a lot of hovering. Kestrels are the bird of prey that hovers the most, it is an absolute expert at it but buzzards can also do it a bit but as they are heavier, chunkier birds they need a bit more wind to allow them to stay in one place. But what could they be hunting?  Lizards can form a part of their diet and would be the mostly likely animal out on the moss.


So could buzzards have cached the lizards? Apparently they can cache items at their nests for their chicks when food is plentiful and there was a buzzard nest about 500 m from the fence post. So to me buzzard seems the most likely in this case but I would be happy to hear from anyone that might know better. It is little mysteries like these that make life interesting on the bog!

Cache (biology) = hoarding, a food storing behavior of animals.


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2 Responses to Dead Lizard Mystery

  1. WalkaboutLad says:

    Hi David,
    I always enjoy reading your blog. Interesting to hear about the cached lizards. Have you had any shrikes in the area at all? They could possibly be another species to consider in solving the mystery.


    • Hi. My first thoughts were shrikes. Great grey shrikes are occasionally seen on Flanders but only in the depth of winter so they never cross paths with lizards. Red-backed shrikes are now so rare on the ground that they wouldn’t be a possibility. So am not sure but still think buzzard mostly likely.


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