I was worried yesterday when my Buzzard didn't arrive. I say 'my' Buzzard, but he is mine only in my affection for him. Actually, I don't know whether it is a him, or a her, but I shall call it a him. I started to feed my European Buzzard at the beginning of the harsh spell of winter weather. I feed all the seed eating birds, so it only seemed right that I should also give Mr Buzzard a helping hand. He was also difficult to ignore, as he would sit on one of the fence posts in my field and repeatedly call out to me. One day he even came right up close to the house and peered in at the window: "You are feeding them, so why can't you feed me!" So I started to feed him. Only a small amount, just to help him through the worst of the weather, as I didn't want him to become dependant on me. In reality it has turned out the other way round: I am dependant on him - I need my fix of his visit so that I can admire his beauty and check that he is well.
This morning, as I looked out of the bathroom window, I spotted him on his regular telegraph pole. He can see me coming out of the house of a morning from this pole, and his screaching calls let me know that he has noticed my presence. If he is very hungry he will immediately fly across to the Hawthorn that grows behind the goose and duck sheds: the first of the poultry that I let out of a morning. He stares at me, and screeches, long and loud: "Feed me, feed me, feed me!" As I approach the sheds he gracefully banks away to the right and glides over my fields, alighting on a fence post. He continues to harry me with his insistent call. I shout in return "You'll have to wait!".
I finish off letting out the poultry, and then I open up the goat sheds, before heading off to get him his meat, his calls still echoing out across the land. I hold the meat high in my hand as I walk out across the field towards him. He never stays in the field to await the arrival of his breakfast, preferring to fly back to the Hawthorn where he has safety and a good view of my actions. He stands, tall and tense, watching my movements, waiting for me to move away. If he is very hungry he will be flying across to the meat before I have even left the field, but on most days he waits until I am well out of the way, putting his security before his hunger pangs.
Today though was different: we once again have torrential driving rain, the sort of rain that drenches you within seconds, stinging your eyes and flesh, making you long to head indoors as soon as possible. My Buzzard was there on his post, as usual, but he was silent, completely silent. He seemed occupied with some strange behaviour: his wings were outspread, as was his tail; he faced directly into the driving wind and rain, his head turning from side to side, his body angled in such a way that he would become saturated on all surfaces. He stayed there for at least half an hour that I saw, and I don't know how long he was there before I first spotted him, just after dawn. The only thing that I can think of is that perhaps he was trying to clear his body of parasites in the way that birds will bathe in dust or water. If anyone has any suggestions as to why he behaved in this way, then please let me know.