Wednesday 12 May 2010


While the country waits to see what sort of government we're going to end up with, I've been worrying away at this picture, which seemed to take for ever. It's for one of Geraldine Taylor's stories, describing a buzzard ghosting through the woods. I remember encountering a buzzard in woodland, too, when I was walking with Richard down a sunken track from the top of the Kymin. The buzzard seemed to fill the track with its wings, as it dropped down ahead of us.

The Kymin is a hill overlooking the Wye, Monmouth, and all the country westwards to the Black Mountains. It's a nice spot, and in the early morning the sun casts your shadow far to the west:

Standing on the Kymin
My shadow's mostly English
But its head's in Wales.

(that's an evening photo, of course, but bear with me; it was a nice evening)

New things learned from doing this picture: the shadows that young beech leaves cast through each other, so that they're like those Venn diagram things.
Most worrying bit: trying to get the sense of the blue sheen in woods when the bluebells are out. Trying to get the bluebells in the foreground to stand out.


  1. Despite the technical difficulties, I think that you have managed to capture the spring - it's a beautiful picture.

    Standing at the top of a high place is always interesting. The contrast of the land each side. Is that building anything special or just a bit of a folly?

  2. Another lovely picture, Dru, but your post highlights the difference between the Queen's English and American English. When you said the word buzzard, I thought you made a mistake, since your picture clearly depicts a soaring hawk. So I did a little research and discovered that what we call hawks, are commonly referred to as buzzards in your part of the world. When you say buzzard here in America, we normally think of a vulture, and most typically a bald, red headed turkey vulture. We have them all around here, and they are often seen along our highways, dutifully feeding on roadkill. We have plenty of red tail hawks too, and they are magnificent to watch.

    Melissa XX

  3. Nice pairing of painting and ph'tography, Dru! My current reading (Andrew Collins' The Seventh Sword) suggests "Egyptian" aspects in the hawk and the castle with its appearance of a crowned figure facing the sunset. Folly, to be sure. But Buteo buteo is your buzzard, right? Glad to see its image added since it's not in The Bristol Downs. Lots of our hawks are buteos too, though we don't have that one. Interesting morphing of the name from Latin via Old French buisard and buison. Here in Iowa I don't hear vultures called buzzards like I did back east (some call them Van Buren airplanes!), but they are plentiful and regular visitors to my backyard (just behind my castle).

  4. Thank you, Anji. The building was built as a banqueting house for the local gentry, and next to it is a Naval Temple, commemorating the Admirals of the time

    interesting point, Melissa; I think that buzzards (in the English sense) qualify as hawks rather than falcons; and we don't have vultures at all. Though I did see griffin vultures in the Spanish Pyrenees, and some came gliding low above us as we picknicked on a high ridge. I recall the gentle swoosh of the air as they passed... I guess your red-tailed hawk is of the sort described in 'Oklahoma' as making lazy circles in the sky?

    That's right, Larry; this is a Common Buzzard (Buteo Buteo). Althoug hit doesn't feature in the Downs book, buzzards are closing in on the city and I have seen several on the Downs and in the adjacent Gorge; in fact, here is one that I found quite close to where I live

  5. Wow, Buzzard looks like a hooded knight, sword of. The tree is fantastic. Kaliesque!