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Buzzards over Reading

Last Friday evening, as I was going out with Zoe and Liz, I saw a large bird out of the corner of my eye.  I assumed, from its size, that it must be a grey heron but it disappeared behind a nearby block of flats before I could get a good look at it.  I walked on a few steps so that I would be able to see it again as it reappeared round the side of the flats but instead, it came back over the roof, and then it was clear that it wasn't a heron but a large bird of prey, dark all over except for white areas on the undersides of the wings.  Its tail was narrow like that of a kestrel, but the bird was much larger than any kestrel.  Reference to the BWP-CE confirmed my suspicion that this must have been a buzzard (Buteo buteo).  Buzzards vary in the darkness of their plumage.  This one must have been one of the darker ones.

I have seen birds that I suspected were buzzards before, but they have always been high in the sky, far too high to see any detail on them.  This one was at low level and only about 30 metres away and the markings were clear.  Zoe and Liz saw it too.

Earlier this year, while I was at work, Liz and Zoe saw a large bird of prey, that might have been a buzzard, eating a wood pigeon on our back lawn.  However, neither of them was able to provide a good enough description to allow me to identify it.  Later that day that bird carried the dead pigeon up onto our roof, presumably to be able to finish its meal without being disturbed.  By the time I got home all that was left was a scatter of pigeon feathers on the lawn.

Several years ago I was walking with Zoe along Kennetside in central Reading when we heard a mewing sound from above and looked up to see a large bird of prey high up, apparently being mobbed by some gulls.  That too was probably a buzzard, as their characteristic call is a mewing sound.

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