After a three-hour drive from Lincolnshire to Wiltshire, I made myself comfortable in a small wooden hide; my space for the next eight hours. I usually find myself walking around an area to take images of wildlife, but this experience was something I was keen to witness for myself.
The day was overcast, so I knew the settings for my camera wouldn’t need adjusting too much. Once I was settled in the hide, I could hear distant wrens and stonechats, and the light over the land changed from a light blue to a muted grey. As the sun continued to rise behind the thick blanket of clouds, I heard the distant cry of a buzzard. Within an hour of waiting patiently, no less than 10 buzzards had landed less than 20 metres in front of the hide and began to feast on the food provided for them.
As more and more buzzards began to arrive, this resulted in multiple interactions happening between individuals as they defended their meals from each other. It did make it difficult for me to choose where to point my camera, but because I had the whole day in the company of these magnificent birds, I knew there would be just as many opportunities to get some of the action shots I had only dreamed of achieving before then. The buzzards would spread their wings apart in the hopes of intimidating the smaller, and potentially younger, buzzards to abandon their food to the attacking bird. Others would resort to flying in low and then stretching their talons in front of them to stake their claim on the food or even attack the bird on the ground.
It wasn’t just the buzzards that I had for company. Red kites were circling above the area and either swooped down to grasp their talons on any remaining pieces of food, or landed and patiently waited for the right moment where food would become available and avoid confrontation with the buzzards, who were a lot more defensive over their pieces of carrion. The colours of the red kites are much more vibrant than when I would see them flying above my head closer to home, and I marvelled at the patterns and colours featured on their head, chest and wings.
As the sky began to darken and most of the birds returned to their roosting areas, I realised what I had just experienced. I spent a whole day in the company of some of the UK most recognisable birds of prey, that I would only often see flying high over my house or near neighbouring farmers fields. To see them so up close, so close that I could see each individuals’ eye colour, was an experience that I was so grateful to witness. My love for wild birds has been a constant feature throughout my life so far, and I hope through some of the images feature below, you are able to appreciate them too.