Dancing Hawk, thank you (Buteo buteo)


Buteo buteo, the Eurasian Buzzard, is a bird of the edge lands, of magic. She launches from her thick twig-nest in high, forked branches to glide on a trajectory to rabbit-grazed meadow. She is a perfect shadow in the wood, yet casts her own deep shadow on grass. Beware the unwary. On sunny days, I see her circling high above the apple orchards, and I call to her in meows like a kitten. She will call back.

She can be solitary. She can be social. Her dual life and her love of warm, thermal updrafts, are not unlike my own. Occasionally, I see exploding pigeons above the steep croft, and I know she will feed her chicks this day. Thank goodness for generalists.


Buzzards are of Least Concern across their massive range, according to the IUCN. I am, none-the-less, concerned.

British mainland birds are resident, often persecuted and vulnerable to the selfish wants of some humans, as all animals are. Their trees are brutally stolen, their hunting grounds siezed and built upon. They eat lead shot, especially around game shoots, attracted by fresh blood and slaughtered carrion. And they themselves are shot. This hate weighs heavy on the hearts of those who care.

But these remarkable birds, undisturbed, know their deep, broad volumes of place as intimately as I know my kitchen cupboards. They understand a daily rhythm and I have found them to be wise. When the new, red kites come, they simply soar their sky, and all is somehow calm. I have always watched them with childish wonder. They are raptors of majesty, keen foragers and navigators. They are birds of pride.

Buzzards of the northern, colder parallels migrate vast distances to Africa and India, mustering in huge flocks at isthmuses and upon ridges. I have never seen these gatherings. They must be glorious and intelligent. One day I would like to find them, and watch them.

Meanwhile, here in Wales, with each local journey I make, I count them on the telegraph poles. I look high in the sky for rounded wing tips and fan tails. I admire their underwings as one would admire paintings, the blackish edge forming frames around their flight. They are an array of browny, alabaster and cream. If you are lucky to be close, they are sometimes red. When our star falls of an evening, a buzzard underwing can glow like an amethyst.


On open walks, I love how she looks at me, sharp, with sparkling eyes as she soars overhead. In the woods, on a branch, she defecates in disgust at my intrusion ~ tail up. Projectile and white! Then dives and glides to escape my gaze.

All the while, I love her families ~ the tense love-making, fluff-babes, the fledglings hopping about the tree tops, the juveniles, round-shouldered and elbowed on the hawthorn tops. But it is on the farmers’ ploughed and worked ground where she truly entertains me. I need this laughter. She transforms into a “dancing hawk”, along with others in rows, asserting her personal space with metre-wingspans of mud. I imagine the tune, as she hunts the small things, soft worms and shiny beetles.

I am smiling. That she makes me smile is invaluable to me. Thank you, buzzard, for all you are and all you do.


Biking Buzzard ~ my poem about a special encounter, at Mesmerising Moments, a site hosted by the wonderful Karen Wilde.


Guest Blog – The Hunt, by Ros Farrell

Ros is a horse and wildlife artist, and also my older sister. She spoke to me recently of her first and only experience of attending The Hunt as a young girl, and I asked her to write the story down. She kindly obliged.



I must have been eight or nine years old when my parents organised for me to go another step on my little horse journey.  Up until this point, it had all been very informal and simply involved me connecting with them, loving them and riding our ponies.  I had entered a gymkhana too, I think, but nothing serious at all.  I’m not entirely sure how it came about, but it was decided amongst us that a Hunt would be the next step.  Mum took me along to the ‘Horse Boutique,’ to buy clothes especially for the event. I was fitted with the most lovely tweed jacket, new jodhpurs, brand new riding boots and a riding hat.  It was quite a day out. I had been used to wearing a shirt/blouse and jeans! I remember there being gasps about the price of things, and how smart I looked in the get-up.  I remember the smell of the shop ~ new leather saddles, riding boots, and brand new clothes.

My pony wasn’t going to be able to attend the Hunt.  Did you know that you can rent ponies and horses? We rented a pony for one day’s Hunt, one that was experienced in hunting from a local trekking centre. I had never met this pony before, so… here we are on the day meeting at the ‘Meet’ outside an Old English Pub on the Heritage Trail, a beautiful black and white timber village, for the very first time.  He was just right for my height but seemed very revved and overly excited.   There were lots of adults about on horseback, dressed formally in Red and Navy Jackets, all sitting very correctly and gathering outside the pub. Many cars drew up, as well as the substantial group of horse riders; the atmosphere was more serious than I had anticipated.

This was the beginning of what turned out to be a very poignant experience for me, one which has stayed vividly in my memory for all this time. I am now in my late fifties.  These were different times, of course. Few even questioned this type of country pursuit – it was also legal then.  It is actually illegal in the UK now, though you would never think so.

The Hounds were present, the Horses and Riders in plenty, it was Winter and we set off.  We walked-on out of the village and then entered the fields. I lost sight of my parents, who were following The Hunt in the car, along with others. My little rented pony was so excited and I found him difficult to ride. He was very strong indeed – he only seemed content in canter or gallop and, in his keenness, he refused to walk or trot.  My initial enthusiasm began to wane slightly because of it. Things were much more difficult than I had thought.  Then came the gates to negotiate and the hedges, – over which he flew. I had only ever jumped over small barrels with planks in between, never anything like this, so I held on and rode as best as I could. I do remember feeling nervous, not least because I realised at this point, my pony was taking me, and not me taking him. My cousin – a teenager by this time, was on the Hunt too.  She called over for me not to get ahead of the Masters of the Hunt, as it was considered to be bad form.   I had no idea who was ahead or who was behind. By this time, I was holding on for dear life!

I struggled to bring my reins in, but tried my very best.  We rode for miles along ploughed fields, heavy, wet, cold and claggy soils, and jumped the hedges and fences to eventually reach a small country aerodrome. I remember feeling what I now recognise as exhaustion. This was not a fun day! It was a trial. No-one was smiling. No-one looked happy. This was a serious ‘Hunt’. I watched, heard and felt the men as to be formal, dour and authoritative. But I suddenly became aware that the mood and atmosphere had changed again.  The speed quickened as all of us began galloping down the runway, chasing a fox just ahead of us.  That sudden change in atmosphere was the ‘blood lust’. I looked at the scene ahead, the sight of a beautiful fox running for its life, the horses and hounds now flat out. The atmosphere of this blood lust was sickening.

I have never forgotten it. I didn’t like it. My awareness had come home to me.  A light bulb had switched on within me; an epiphany.  I realised what we were actually doing. A fox was about to be killed, ripped apart by the hounds.

I truly cannot tell you how, but I must have slowed my pony down as they all continued. My father appeared from nowhere. I could not speak to express my feelings and burst into tears. He quietly took the reins, looked deep into my eyes, with assurances all was fine. He told me we would walk back to the pub along the country lanes, just the two of us and the pony. Dad held my hand as I sobbed with a broken heart, his other hand holding my ‘wild’ pony walking gently beside us until, eventually, we found our way back to the horse trailers and the cars beside the pub. We had left The Hunt and silently walked for miles. I had cried myself out. Dad never questioned me and it was never brought up again. He just assured me all would be well, and I was never asked to go again.


Emily Dickinson ~ After great pain, a formal feeling comes



Bruno Walpoth (click photo for website)

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –


The Potency of Hope


I shared an article via social media recently, one of many I read on the tangible impacts of climate change borne witness by earth scientists. In a sense, it does not matter which article, but here it is, for those interested. It isn’t good news… brutal, in fact. So I felt the necessity to counter any despair and anger generated, at least to those who comprehend the full gravity and consequence, especially if little action to adapt and mitigate is immediately apparent.


My father showed me the ultimate value of hope in the Hospice, a place of sanctuary where he spent his last five weeks before succumbing to the maleficence of lung cancer. Even the smallest hopes of achieving the small things drove him on, despite all the pain and anxiety he was experiencing ~ hopes of a visit home or even just to the day room, hopes of enjoying another bowl of jelly and ice-cream or simply of having his pillow adjusted to settle more comfortably ~ he believed in himself, despite his incapacities, to work on achieving these goals. And he did.

He recognised that hope needs effort, action and, sometimes, help in order to nurture goals to fruition. And he showed gratitude to everyone along the way. I learned much from my father, right up until the end.

I know we can’t eat hope for breakfast, but it is within us for a very good evolutionary reason. We have the capacity to imagine better things, and then to aim for them, despite uncertainties (of which there are many). It’s a kind of built-in optimism and we’d be fools to deny its potency. But we need to be more articulate in defining our hopes, to take ownership of them. Then we can begin to work towards them, despite any risks of failure, rather than just waiting for a lucky strike.

Those who shun hope lock themselves into oblivion. Human hopelessness cannot be cardinal, given all we are now being told by the scientific community on the rapidly changing state of the planet.

My hope is that more people truly understand what these observations mean, not just for themselves, but for all life. I hope that more will realise the incredible beauty of the complexity of all life, and then take steps to reduce their impacts. And outcomes may even be beautiful. Hope Springs.

Above all, I hope that people love this Earth enough to want to make those changes.

The next one hundred years will see many Earth-shocks, some of which we cannot even predict. Our hopes of today could mean better outcomes for all. We are mirrors shining into the future. The next one hundred years are the reflections in our ‘hope’ mirrors ~ and we might pause to imagine, our grandchildren (and indeed their children), will be looking at them very closely.

Mental distress, emotional pain.

GINNY BATTSON·MONDAY, 16 MAY 2016 ~ Note for Friends on FB. I thought I’d now share to the blog…



Emotional pain. It can be so searingly deep, real, visceral. I sometimes feel as if I have no skin whatsoever, it’s that raw. I have friends going through some really difficult times right now and I can’t help but feel some of that pain too. What happened in my own life in 2008 caused me changes, both in the mind and in the body. The two are inseparable. And I know I’ll change again, because that is the nature of our uniqueness through time. The scientists are only just realising what the ancients in the East, especially, were already confident about – plasticity of the mind and the impacts on body and spirit (and vice versa). Hard earned through experience, and now we modern humans find it too in MRI scans and electrodes.

How we think can effect the body and our bodies can effect our mind. We are impacted by events around us. We can be injured, mentally and physically. And we can heal (at least enough to function), given the right help for us as individuals. We can also be stuck in patterns and our minds can become overactive or underactive. Again, the Eastern philosophers had an advanced notion of this and psychologists (and some enlightened psychiatrists), are now re-discovering very similar things through empirical trials.

What I do believe is that if we all really understood the interconnectedness of events, environment, each other (relationships with human and non-human life), then we wouldn’t be so prejudiced to perceived ‘weaknesses’ or ‘strengths’. We wouldn’t be so reluctant to ‘grade’ each other as weak or strong, sick or well. We come in all shapes and sizes, both mentally and physically, biologically and in our consciousnesses.

If we learned to talk to each other more, reveal our inner worries and difficulties, seek help, offer help, then perhaps the burden of pain would lessen for each of us. A burden shared is a burden halved… and we each can be equipped with emotional first aid, for self-protection and for helping others. Just living, life, being alive, here in this world of living beings, supporting one another. It won’t save everyone, everything, but it might help. I guess some might call it love. I do. Others might call it community. Some, God.