Tony Drakeford's nature notes


When I was knee-high to a robin, the only chance I had of seeing a buzzard was on my annual trout fishing holidays to wildest Wales where it was always exciting to watch the huge birds soaring over the mountains.

But in the decades since, buzzards have been spreading their wings and can be spotted in Surrey where they nest.

They are now also being sighted regularly over Wimbledon common attended by the obligatory band of mobbing crows which are disdainfully shrugged off. I have even seen one prospecting over Wimbledon town centre.

I took the accompanying photo recently as a buzzard circled lazily high above the flowering gorse on the common.

Thoughts are that before long buzzards may nest on the common, probably in the leafy area of Fishponds wood.

 A similar success story belongs to the red kite. Persecuted earlier this century, only a couple of pairs remained in the remote wooded parts of mid-Wales during the nineteen-fifties. In Tudor London, kites scavenged the filthy streets, awash with garbage.

William Shakespeare, a bird watcher himself as evidenced in his many plays hated kites or 'puttocks' as they were then called.

However, in the past twenty years or so red kites have been re-introduced and the bird is now widespread. Again, its distinctive forked tail and angular wings are a reasonably common sight over Wimbledon common and in Surrey and the home counties where it nests.