The buzzard’s feast

Every so often, I come across the remains of a buzzard kill. The edge of our stream seems to be a favoured spot. We have a pair of buzzards who nest locally, and their favourite prey seems to be the wood pigeon. I’ve heard the chick(s) calling for the past few weeks, so there are extra beaks to feed.

This one has been completely plucked and devoured, but once I came across a bloody carcase picked half clean. When I bent down to look, a host of angry wasps boiled out, rather the antithesis of that well-known phrase on golden syrup tins “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” – an allegory about a dead lion and a bees’ nest, the point of which has probably been lost over time.

In this case, “out of the soft came forth fierceness”.

Apparently, it was a common belief in ancient times that bees, like other insects, spontaneously generated from rotting meat. One of many misconceptions that could have been corrected by careful observation of the natural world, like the one about swifts and swallows hibernating over winter at the bottom of ponds, which persisted until surprisingly recently, Gilbert White having dug up ponds to see if he could find any.