Another yowl from the sky. A buzzard. Of course it was a buzzard. When I moved to East Anglia more than 20 years ago, you never saw or heard a buzzard. Now they’re the most obvious bird of prey.
And they yowl. They are the most gabby of all birds of prey. Most birds of prey prefer to act the strong, silent type – after all, you don’t catch much prey by telling everyone for miles around that you’re about.
But buzzards take a different view. They are seriously keen on letting other buzzards know where they are. It is about togetherness and distancing, often at the same time.
I sat at the edge of the marsh with the buzzards overhead, birds that always look burly and untidy after the marsh harriers. One bird – I think it is always the same one – has a taste for ragged, untidy hovering, and always in the same place. It’s pretty amateurish compared to a kestrel’s finely honed windhover, but it seems important to the bird.
They called again, and then again. Male calls to female and female to male: the great solidarity of the pair, each bird taking strength from the other, as it should be. No adult bird round here is in any doubt as to which pair lays claim to which bit of sky and the land beneath it.
As this year’s young birds take to the air, they will be even noisier than their parents. Their flight calls will tell the adult that they are not intruders. Do the parents recognise the individual cries of each of their own young? I bet they do.
As the youngsters get bolder and travel further, they will yowl again as they return to their natal territory: I’m in your team and I come in peace. And so they learn to ride the winds and to soar: for soaring – gaining height without flapping – is what buzzards do best. The sky round here is getting ready for them.