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Thursday, November 17, 2011


It was a lovely day on Tuesday. Unseasonably warm, like the rest of November's been.

So I went a-strolling in the Malvern Hills, up to the top of British Camp (huff puff).

Returning to the car park along one of the lower paths, I heard an unsual bird call from above. A kind of "meeyug", sound, but as one syllable, not two. Having never heard that call in my life, I looked up, and saw a magnificient raptor flying above. It would fly 100 feet or so above the ground, then fold in its wings and dive, calling out as it did so, pulling short about 30 feet above the ground. It then flew back up, repeating the sequence, several times. That flight behaviour is, I discovered later, known as stooping.

Now here's the problem. It was too big to be a Peregrine Falcon (and had wrong wing shape), and it wasn't a behaviour I'd normally have associated with Buzzards, nor did the call match the Buzzard's normal pi-oo bi-syllabic call. After listening to numerous sound clips of raptors, it was more like the sound of a Golden Eagle, but there aren't any in the wild in these parts. It wasn't trailing any tethers, so was unlikely to be an escaped-from-captivity Golden Eagle. But Golden Eagles do the stooping thing too, like Peregrines.

Back to Google, and I found a clue. Buzzards, in their spring courtship rituals, do that sort of dance to impress prospective partners. I haven't found any examples of their courtship calls, but I can imagine them being different from their normal call, which I have heard many times.

So, was it a Buzzard, confused by the mild weather and thinking it was Spring, trying to impress the ladies with its Golden Eagle impersonations?

Whatever it was, it was a totally enrapturing experience, so beautiful to witness.

Next time I go walking in the hills, I'll take my camera.

Posted by Phil at 9:19 PM
Categories: Environment