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Mellow Fruitfulness And All That

2nd of November 2006

As I write these notes we are enjoying a few days of wonderful Autumn sunshine. The grassy ride down to the wildlife pond is drenched in dew which sparkles in the low sun.We have just eaten our own apples and pears with our breakfast,and yesterday we had mushrooms that I had picked on Ted’s early morning walk. My cupboards are full of damson jam and blackberry and lime jam. Everything is full of Autumn’s fruitfulness.
Yesterday, as we left for our mid day walk, Ted’s a three walks a day dog, we heard the haunting sound of a buzzard mewing. What a great sight in a clear blue sky to see two buzzards, wings slightly raised, soaring above our heads. They were circling together almost as if in a game of tag. They both seemed to be the same size, so were they two youngsters? Female buzzards are quite a bit bigger than their mates so I do not think they were a pair. Their flight was effortless as they rose ever higher, presumably riding a thermal air currant. Then as we watched, we noticed that way above them was another buzzard, also circling, but much higher. Mum or Dad keeping an eye on them maybe? It seemed as if they had called “mew mew, look at us” just as we had come outside! It certainly made my day.
Having buzzards in the woods has helped to keep the rabbit numbers in control but now that myxomatosis is once again rife in the area I hope there will be enough to keep the pair going.These days some rabbits seem to be resistant and buzzards do eat other small mammals such as mice and voles as well as beetles and worms. It is when they are raising their young that rabbits are essential.
A few years ago we rented  an  alpine chalet in the French Alps for a couple of weeks. It was on the side of a mountain beside the highest hay field,which was just being cleared when we arrived. The field was too steep for a tractor and baler, so the hay was raked up by a tracked vehicle used on the ski slopes and taken to the baler, which was stationary on the side of the lane. During our stay we had breakfast watching a pair of buzzards pulling worms from the freshly cleared field. They looked so comical as they ran along, head often to one side and then plunging their hooked beaks into the soft soil to pull out some truly huge worms. Breakfasts became leisurely  affairs as we sat on the veranda watching the floor show. Now I can see them from my own back door. How wonderful.          
Wendy Bathurst

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