Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Buzzards* are so much more common than they used to be. I spotted my first "urban buzzard" in 1999, standing outside in the back garden at my daughter's fifth birthday party. As the riotous assembly of mini-Bacchae yelled and screamed around our tiny lawn, high as kites on sugary pop, I looked up and there it was, circling around in that effortlessly purposeful way buzzards and eagles have. Perhaps it was waiting to see if I would be torn into pieces in the Dionysian rite taking place a few hundred feet below.
Until then, I had only ever seen them in deep countryside, and even then sufficiently infrequently for the exclamation "Buzzard!" to be worth craning one's neck for, even driving at speed. Something has changed to tempt the buzzard and that other once rare and haughty robber baron, the red kite, further and further out of their rural isolation. My suspicion is that the frequency and quality of roadkill on motorways and trunk roads has to be involved; you could compile an inventory of British mammals and game birds from the remains scattered along the central reservation of the A34 from Winchester to Oxford alone.
I wonder if these tweedy gents change clothing for their urban forays? Somehow I doubt it. "No brown in town be damned..."
* For American readers: a "buzzard" in Britain is not a vulture but a large hawk, eagle-like in appearance and habits. Buteo buteo, to be precise.