Misty Worcestershire (and an alert buzzard)

The views in this area, on cold, clear wintry mornings, have been really impressive over the past few weeks. Here are a few snaps.

View to the Malverns from near the Carrington Bridge.

View to the Malverns from near the Carrington Bridge.

View from near Ockeridge towards Abberley clock tower.

View from near Ockeridge towards Abberley clock tower.

View from near Ockeridge

View from near Ockeridge

Buzzard near Ankerdine Road

Buzzard near Ankerdine Road

Meanwhile, over the winter it has become quite normal to see buzzards perched on telegraph poles. Somehow or other I managed to get close enough to one around the Ankerdine Road area. They are usually difficult birds to photograph, despite their size and prominence, but being in a car probably helped on this occasion.

Hawk-eyed

Kestrel hovering in the Malverns

Kestrel hovering in the Malverns

Until yesterday, I had had little success photographing kestrels – and certainly not when they were on the wing. But there is a family of five in the Malverns which are very active and readily visible, either darting around or hanging, hovering, in the air.

I first saw them last weekend, but conspicuously failed with the camera. They were there again yesterday, and last week’s failures provided good experience of what not to do.

I was there for over an hour and could have stayed longer, marvelling at their mastery of the air, and enjoying an extraordinary photographic opportunity.

Hanging in the air: kestrel in the Malverns

Hanging in the air: kestrel in the Malverns

kestrel_MH_9443_cr2med

Surveying the scene

The kestrels almost appeared to be hunting together: though probably more in the way of parent teaching its kid

The kestrels almost appeared to be hunting together: though probably more in the way of a parent teaching its kid

As well as hovering, the kestrels frequently dashed from one hovering point to another

The kestrels frequently dashed from one hovering point to another

Eventually I decided to move on as I was keen for a walk as well.

Later, seeing a buzzard, I thought it would be a much more difficult challenge, as they are constantly in motion as they soar and thus beyond the capabilities of my slow-focussing camera.

Almost at that moment, it moved towards me, and then stopped and rested on the thermals. Perhaps being used to the presence of humans in the Malverns, it was unperturbed by my pointing a camera at it – and secured my best-ever buzzard shots (even exceeding Monday’s efforts!)

This buzzard hung in the air long enough for me secure some good photos.

This buzzard hung in the air long enough for me secure some good photos.

Eagle-eyed

It's always slightly disconcerting to be stared at by a bird of prey...

It’s always slightly disconcerting to be stared at by a bird of prey…

I often see buzzards as I drive around the area, sometimes soaring, but often perched on telegraph poles, surveying the scene for voles or mice.

Several times I have parked the car at the side of the road, wound down the window and pointed the camera, hoping the car would act like a hide – but while this may work for some birds, it doesn’t work for buzzards. They glare at me as if to say, Yer ‘avin’ a larf, aren’t you? and then fly off majestically.

Last week, seeing a buzzard on a pole in Knightwick, I tried again. Somehow, perhaps because I angled the viewfinder screen, I managed to convince it that the camera really wasn’t attached to a human, and was able to snap away.

What looks like a bent piece of wire sticking out of its back is probably a grass stem: I asked around, partly because I hoped I had a bird that was being satellite-tracked, but the consensus is strongly in favour of vegetation.

Buzzard at Knighwick

Buzzard at Knighwick (click image to enlarge)

July 2014 – another encounter with a buzzard, this time at Monkwood Green just outside Wichenford, which I  thought was worth sharing… This highlights the variable plumage in buzzards and why they can often cause confusion with other birds of prey.

Buzzard at Monkwood Green near Wichenford

Buzzard at Monkwood Green near Wichenford

Wichenford buzzard

As I drive into Wichenford, there’s a half-dead tree by the side of the road which is a favourite perch of a juvenile buzzard. Until now, I’ve not had both a camera and decent sunlight at the same time. However, this afternoon I did, and as I returned from Broadwas, I noticed that it was flying around the adjacent field, so decided to wait. Ten minutes later, it arrived on one of the branches.

Buzzard surveying the scene near Wichenford.

Buzzard surveying the scene near Wichenford.

Missing nothing: the buzzard surveying behind as well as in front.

Missing nothing: the buzzard surveying behind as well as in front.

After a while the wind got up and the buzzard flew off, but I managed a couple of snaps as it departed.

Flying off

Flying off