Summer buzzard

Summer buzzard

Its hot and my feet are weary so I step off the path and into the long grass. I find a resting spot in front of a copse full of songbirds.

I free my feet and feel the grass under my toes, letting the sun and song recharge me.

I can look down into the Avon valley and the town below from my place up on the hillside. The sun is high - its early afternoon I surmise. There are a few scattered white and fluffy clouds.

I just start to tune in my senses and wonder what might be going on around me when a buzzard with broad, fingered wings rises up into sight from further down the hill.

I watch as it circles gradually upwards, riding the rising air. Its only perceptible movement is the slight twisting of its broad tail, and yet its flight is purposeful. So well adapted is this bird that flying - an experience so alien to us - is effortless.

Up and up it goes. My eyes strain to follow it as it moves closer to the sun.

Then - all of a sudden - it tucks in its wings and accelerates rapidly downwards and out of sight behind the tree line to my right.

I resume my contemplation of the broader valley - the neat rows of houses, the pockets of woodland here and there, the undulating hills, the vibrant green of the pasture fields and the dark green of their hedgerows...

Then just as suddenly as it disappeared, the buzzard returns into view from the same direction, but more laboured this time. It is flying low, flapping its wings and hot on its trail is a solitary magpie issuing its rattling call!

A moment later and the magpie turns and returns to its post: job done. The buzzard returns to the centre of my view - evidently the position with the best thermals.

This time the buzzard is much lower when it begins again to circling the thermal currents. It is low enough for me to see each of its feathers as it makes its first pass above me. I can see the details of its brown and white markings and it becomes more than just a silhouette. It is an intricate and elegant creature with fine tuned movements along its agile wing.

The ever unpopular buzzard has hardly completed three rotations when a pair of jackdaws fly purposefully towards it. They hassle and hassle the bird of prey into moving on. At first seemingly unflappable, a few aggressive manoeuvres from the pair draw a crow-like call from the buzzard and it subtly steers its glide path off up the valley and to my left.

I follow it with my gaze as the buzzard passes directly above me. Just before it vanishes beyond view it passes below the day-time moon that had gone unnoticed.

A beautiful, soft crescent sits in a clear blue sky. I am grateful to the buzzard for showing it to me.

And I marvel at the scenes I would have missed if had walked through rather than paused and observed.

Kingfisher and canal

Kingfisher and canal

Sun over sea

Sun over sea