My highlight, though, was a bird I never tire of seeing, or hearing for that matter, since on most occasions I hear them before laying eyes on them. The unmistakable caw of a buzzard drew my gaze high up and I had to shield the sun with my hand in order to fully focus on the three raptors circling above. I am so fortunate to get frequent sightings of buzzards where I live and a great number of these have been directly above our house. Once, an adult flew so low across the house that I could see the pale under-feathers on its wings.
As I said, I never tire of seeing and hearing them and I doubt I ever will. It's a particular joy in the Summer, when they are extremely active and I'm guaranteed to at least hear the buzzard call a few times in a day. There's something about them that is mesmerising and I think that's a view that I carry through to all birds of prey. They are fascinating to see in action, whether I see a tawny owl drop from the low branches in front of me while I'm driving at night or I'm marvelling at the brilliant strength of a kestrel hovering in high winds.
Rather oddly, my favourite raptor (a word that is the Latin for "to seize and carry away", as I discovered today) is one I've never actually seen in the flesh, and that is the osprey. I'm always fascinated whenever I catch segments on tv showing them in action; the coverage of Monty and his mate on Springwatch made for wonderful watching. They are such striking birds and it is definitely a dream of mine to see at least one in its natural habitat.
I think it is the strength and intelligence of raptors that has me so besotted. Owls may not be able to turn their heads the full 360° and might not be quite as wise as they are often portrayed in children's books, but their brilliantly-honed hunting skills are enough to set them apart. The marsh harrier can dismember and eat a dragonfly while on the wing and a vertically-plummeting peregrine reaches unbelievable speeds; these are birds that are experts in their fields.
I was lucky enough to receive a falconry experience as one of my Christmas gifts and I am so excited. I have handled owls in the past but only small breeds so I'm looking forward to learning more about other birds of prey and getting some hands-on experience.