Blogger: Aggie Rothon, RSPB Communications Officer

Behind my house is a belt of trees - an ancient jumble of oak and ash, beech and sycamore. The tallest tree stands perhaps forty five metres high from its statuesque base to sky-skimming crown; a king amongst a princely crowd. The trees tower over my cottage, branches linked together like a football team defending an opponent’s penalty kick.

Today the copse is gilded golden and emerald by a morning that glows the colour of lemon barley. The trees look made-up and as though each contour has been delicately highlighted by a pencil-line of sunlight. A translucent silver gleam of rain water has been slicked to their leaves. It is the weather that brings these trees to life. On a bright autumnal morning like today they are carefree, shimmering, exuberant and as full of the joys of being alive as I am. But I have seen their mood change as quickly as the weather does.  On a morning charged with darkness the trees glower - their dark green leaves draped over ancient, sulking frames. 

It was on a day like this, when the morning didn’t seem to want to get light and frothy rain spattered from weak, grey clouds, that I watched a buzzard rise groggily from the king oak’s branches. The bird’s black-brown weight seemed too heavy for its broad-fingered wings as they strained and curled against the airless sky. Just as the trees belonged to the weather that day so the buzzard belonged to the trees – the bird was dark, monumental and untouchable. Yet I have seen buzzards glinting chestnut against a blue sky as they wheel and mewl overhead. Swooping and playing with the gleeful ease of a creature with the sun on its back and the sky as its playground.

A protected species, buzzards are on the increase now but it hasn’t always been like this. The birds suffered extermination throughout much of eastern Britain with Myxomatosis, toxic chemicals and unlawful persecution reducing buzzard numbers during the twentieth century. Recently young birds from the west have started to recolonize eastern counties, however persecution, especially by poisoning continues to kill many birds every year.  For a creature that so calmly possesses the power to change and colour my mood - a bird that can leave my emotions heart-poundingly raw from just one insouciant gaze from its amber eyes and send me giddy from watching the casual power of its soaring, gliding style –it amazes me that we would ever think to rid ourselves of buzzards.

Without the weather, the trees outside my house would lack some of their character - their wild, untameable, changeable quality and without the cry of a sky-swooping buzzard our countryside would lose part of its breath-taking, awe-inspiring wildness. Let’s make our eastern counties a home for buzzards as well as other, more widely accepted, wildlife. These birds are on the up, I hope that it remains that way.