Buzzards and Badgers

After a weekend of cyan skies and cotton wool clouds, Sunday gradually clouded over, with a warm stiff breeze stirring the trees in the valley. In the late afternoon I thought I would take a walk up to the new pond I had found last winter and sneak around in the hedgerow to see what was about. I took the widened path up through hanging wood and as I reached the top heard the call of buzzards playing in the blustery wind. They had taken up station in the high trees, occasionally lifting off to circle and tumble.

The pond, unsurprisingly was dry but its sandy banks were now softened by early colonizing plants and grasses. Looking south down the Rib valley a tractor scoured a recently harvested rape field, clouds of dust rising in the wind.

I sat for an hour in the hedgerow, enjoying the sound of the wind in the trees and the gambling buzzards who came quite close overhead, before retracing my steps. As I descended I remembered walking the same way back in the snow, the unleaved tree bows picked out in against the powder snow.

Six months on and the scene was completely different, now a woodland nave dressed in green. Right on cue to complete the summer vista, three badgers crossed the path in line; two adults and a growing youngster.

Having crossed the path they headed out into the bare field, and I took chase, relying on their poor eyesight, my camouflage and the wind direction not to disturb them.

A hundred yards across the field and they separated. I followed the pair, in my mind the mother and cub, as they arced further out into the field and across to the hedge-line to the west.

It was great seeing the group, certainly from a different sett to the badgers of my usual encounters, suggesting a healthy local Melinae population in the valley.


  1. WOOW!!!!! Thats amazing!!


  2. Extremely excellent.

    Apropos the old line about two peoples separated by a common language thing, our "buzzards" are, for reasons that escape me, turkey and black vultures — iconographically immortalized in many a Western — while yours are descended from the latin "buteo" via the French, if I remember correctly.

    We have other buteo species here, the red-tailed hawk, b. jamaicensis, being the most common in the east.

    When J.A. Baker's wonderfully obsessed The Peregrine was re-printed in the U.S., it was given a cover image of a red-tail. The designer was promptly spanked, and the second edition now supports a falcon.

  3. Thanks Hen & Crafty Green Poet,

    Great info Matthew, thanks. Mine was indeed a buteo buteo. Not sure if this translates well your side of the pond, but there is a table top football (soccer) game that has been around for decades in Europe called Subbuteo. The name is well known and apparently came about because the inventor thought the game would become a good hobby for young lads and therefore chose the latin name for the Hobby for his products name – falco subbuteo –

  4. Gorgeous pos t- what a beautiful ramble. I love the summer/winter shot. And your badger family is magnificent. Thanks to Matthew for the over-the-pond buteo/buzzard clarification. I was wondering how such an accomplished naturalist as you could mistake a hawk for a vulture!

  5. Great to see some pictures of these elusive creatures (badgers that is – buzzards seem plentyful these day – I hardly saw any when I was a boy). I spent much time with a friend who live in a country house in huge grounds for a time and there was often evidence of badgers coming nearly up to the house at night – but alas no sightings. I've only ever seen one on rare occasions shambling along the road, where they more than often seem to come a cropper.

  6. Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for dropping by. So fortunate to have a lot of badgers surrounding me. Don't think they've made it into our garden yet but it wouldn't surprise me. To me they are THE classic British mammal and define our countryside, with sometimes ancient setts that can be hundreds of years old. Luckily my ones like to come out in daylight too in the summer.

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