Our Patch: Buzzards, Bees & Berries

By on Wednesday, September 3, 2014

our_patch_sj_jarmanWhen you have a dog that doesn’t get along with other dogs, you are always on the look out for some poor pooch approaching in the hope of making friends.

Whilst I was looking across the farmer’s fields which in turn overlook Whiston Woods, whiston_woods_2the pigeons scattered, and I was sure I had seen the large shape of a brown dog running amuck in and out of the straws; but my view was obscured by trees, and I just kept my eye warily in that direction with the lead in my hand.

As we cleared the trees, I noticed rooks were mobbing the area and thought perhaps a fox was out and about, so I was truly surprised to see the resident buzzard pull its wings tight into its body and dive-bomb straight into the pigeons trying to pick one off for its breakfast.

Being such a massive bird and moving so fast had truly fooled my eye into thinking a ground predator was at large.

buzzardI love buzzards: They are a success story of our time, being fairly rare just a couple of decades ago, now seen in suburbia and along motorways where we used to see kestrels, whose story is sadly not so positive.

One of their traits I like best is their sheer laziness. I’ve seen buzzards in fields digging for worms whilst rabbits frolic carelessly nearby.

Whilst I see them most often hanging in gravity-defying V shapes, without a single wing flap, either over the house or the field, this one was making a truly impressive albeit unsuccessful attempt at hunting on the wing.

butterfly4I think the changeable weather has made hunting difficult for them (birds of prey do not like flying in the rain – it can cause damage to their flight feathers), and this guy was forced into an uncharacteristic flight of speed and agility.

I have been walking just after dawn most mornings this week, and the air is starting to take on the smell and feel of autumn, a bit of a nip, clean and fresh smelling, with increasingly heavy dew.  The berries are prolific and rapidly turning from green to russet, scarlet and deep purple-black.

There are fungi starting to fruit, although I’m sure we’ll have a better show over the next few weeks, and acorns are forming in their cups, keeping the jays busy. I’ve had to face facts – it’s time to get school uniforms ready; the new term is upon us.

We’ve had a real harvest moon this month, and although the pesky hurricane, downgraded to tropical storm, downgraded to low pressure (translates as very windy and very soggy weather), ensured that the best night for viewing it was a wash-out, I was pleased I still managed to get a picture showing the yellowish tint.

harvest_moonI’ve noticed over the last two or three years that there are a lot more grey squirrels in the area.

I would say I see one most days now, and we have even had them in the garden. I wonder if there is a greater habitat for them, with some of our spaces being left a little wild, whether trees are maturing well in the area, or whether the fact more and more people are feeding garden birds means the squirrels are the unforeseen beneficiaries of our altruism.

They are very bold, and seem to take great joy in running across a path in front of the dog so she gives chase. They then scale a tree, right out to the impossibly thin branches chattered and shaking their tails in either indignance or just mischief.

So as the vestiges of summer ebb away, the odd sunny afternoon brings a flurry of colour our way, as insects strive to collect the last of the bountiful nectar – beautiful bees and butterflies flash their hues almost as a herald of the stunning colours autumn will offer us in just a few weeks’ time.


SJ, also known as Sarah and Sarah-Jane, held her dream job as a breastfeeding peer support worker until becoming a full-time mum of three. She still volunteers at Whiston Hospital.

In her spare time, SJ loves to read, and play cello with the Knowsley Youth Orchestra. She confesses to being a secret singer ever since hubby Trev bought her SingStar.

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