Highland cyclists are being warned of new hazard on the north’s roads – a dive-bombing buzzard.
One cyclist has been attacked twice within a week by the bird on the A832 Muir of Ord-Marybank road.
John Leggett, a 72-year-old retired marine consultant, said his ears “were ringing” after the angry buzzard flew at his head.
Its talons also left a small dent in Mr Leggett’s silver cycling helmet, though luckily he was not injured.
The Marybank man said: “I was approached Clach Wood earlier last week and felt a bang on my helmet.
“I just thought something had fallen off a tree and I kept going.
“But on Thursday, it happened at the same place, another bang on my helmet.
“This time I stopped and there was a bird sitting in a tree.
“It flew down towards me but it disappeared when I waved my arms at it.
“My head hurt and my ears was ringing for a couple of hours. It hit me fairly hard.
“My helmet has a dent in it from the bird’s claws.”
Mr Leggett, a member of the Ross-shire Roads Cycling Club, believes that the bird may have had a nest nearby and was trying to protect its young.
He said: “Friends have heard of it happening to other people. We think that the bird had young which had just hatched and she was being protective.”
However he has warned other cyclists in his club to beware when on the route, although there have not been any other reports of similar incidents.
Buzzards are the most common bird of prey in the UK, with an estimate of more than 70,000 breeding pairs.
They can have a wingspan of up to 4ft and feed on small animals.
Buzzards are also regularly seen
An RSPB spokeswoman said: “The buzzard probably has a nest of chicks close by and it is being protective of them.”