Buzzing off

posted in: Birds, Gloucestershire | 0

R went into Stratford today to buy some finishing oil and lint-free cloths for the kitchen work surfaces, and I went along for the cake. And steps, to be fair – he dropped me at the Evesham Place junction and carried on to the decorators’ merchant on the Birmingham Road, while I walked the rest of the way into town. In Holy Trinity churchyard I saw my first Blackcap of the year (species number 88), but it was fossicking around a twiggy little tree and I couldn’t get a clear shot of it. I did get a pretty well-focused Robin in Avonbank Gardens, but again, a lot of surrounding twigs and branches made for a messier image than I like. In other news, the Avon is well out of its banks – up over the Bancroft wharf, though not into the Gardens, and completely covering the south side footpath.

This afternoon I decided, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me now, that a fools’ errand was called for, so off I went up onto the Cotswold scarp. For the first forty minutes I was there the light was lovely and the lane was quiet, which would have been a perfect chance for the owls to come out and perform, but none did. In fact nothing much moved, apart from a few Stonechats which didn’t care for having a camera pointed at them, and two Buzzards, of which this (a female, I think), is one. After that the sky blackened and it rained, heavily and coldly. By this time all the Usual Suspects were there, apart from Hillyblips, who’d drifted through with 1000 Red Kites already on the camera and elected (sensibly) not to stay. The rest of us did stay, huddled in our respective cars against the icy downpour.

After a while the rain stopped, and for a couple of minutes the sky seemed to be promising something better…. but then it changed its mind and rained again, and at that point I called it and set off home. I was about five miles down the road when I came out of a dip and went round a corner, and was hit side-on by the luscious warm sunlight that by this point was bathing the top of the scarp. Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t contemplate turning round and going back – but you have to draw the line somewhere, and I realised that I’d now drawn mine. I won’t be trekking back into the high Cotswolds again this season, unless someone I trust tells me that at least some of the shorties are still there.

Even though the Buzzard was a little distant and I’ve had to crop the image more than I like, I’ve chosen to post it (her) because I don’t get to capture many of them in flight. This is a little surprising given that the RSPB says they’re the UK’s commonest raptor, but they’re generally pretty shy and retiring. Red Kites, though much less common, aren’t so wary of people, and in places they’ve successfully colonised, such as the Cotswolds, they can be harder to avoid than to find. As I think Hillyblips could confirm.