February 27th – When I was a youth, exploring the local lanes and byways on my treasured Peugeot racer, I rarely, if ever saw birds of prey. I might hear the odd owl, or spot a kestrel or two, but raptors were rare things indeed.
Over the interceding 35 years, the rabbit population has recovered, and the buzzards and other large hunters have steadily been gaining traction. I now regularly see buzzards wheeling over the Black Country, often being mobbed by crows and magpies. Kestrels hover over motorway embankments, gimlet eye peeled for anything small and squeaky. Peregrines hunt pigeon in central Birmingham, Walsall and Lichfield. Patches of plucked feathers attest to the feeding of sparrow hawks.
It therefore gave me reason to smile that this fine bird was perching in a thicket near Wall Butts at Muckley Corner. A splendid bird in fine condition, and showing well that not all of our progression in conservation is wasted.