Sitting on the bench on our patio, sipping
our peppermint teas one August morning,
we saw five buzzards leisurely circling
the church spire, a quintet of raptors,
four of a kind – and a joker for crows
and jackdaws to mob. But what is the prey
in this suburb for so many to survive?
The Romans built a road from Deva
to the salt pans on the plain over this heath
and its brook and through its hollows. Heather
and gorse, under the Normans, became
a habitat for outlaws – until
the overgrown road was used for droving beasts
in their hundreds, thousands to market.
Prisoners of the ‘45 were tried
where the brook turns north. When the railways came,
developers built villas and terraces –
between the wars, semis. Bedsits and druggies
arrived. But we are gentrified now –
sharing with the Brown Rat our good fortune.
The first buzzard I ever saw was perched
in an oak in the Ogwen Pass. Gamekeepers’
poison, myxie rabbits and pesticides
had all but extinguished them from the lowlands.
The gamekeepers went to war, 5 per cent
of the rabbits survived, pesticides
were regulated and these predators
thrived, needing less sustenance per day
than kestrels or sparrow hawks or kites –
being ambushers and opportunists.
So, here’s to the buzzards and the rats –
and us, lords of them all!