Hello again. Did you think I had abandoned the blog forever? I have felt deeply ashamed of my neglect. It was not entirely within the scope of my fault, however. My partner has been busy and occasionally unwell over the past couple of months. Gisèle has been out and about in the lighter evenings of late and, most significantly, our computer was infected with a behemoth of an evil virus. Specialist software had to be purchased - that's a mark of how serious the problem was... Thankfully, it was money well spent, and we are back to our regular capacity. I regard it as highly fortunate that the mighty blog itself (now, after all, in it's EIGHTH year!) was not affected by the virus. Wretched thing. But away with all this. A further regret is that we last parted on something of a cliff-hanger; the sighting by Betty of a young buzzard following little 'Sèle at the very scene of my own past entanglements with such a scourge. Let us join them once more, as they venture forth once again for an early evening stroll...
"...and that one is a woodpecker, a green woodpecker." explained Betty, as a green bird flew, chirruping, up from the ground into a nearby tree.
"Why is it called a woodpecker?" asked Gisèle curiously, "Is it made of wood?"
"No, it just pecks wood on trees to get out the insects."
"And, over there, you can see a nuthatch - see? That little one with the orange belly in the tree?"
"Do those ones hatch out of nuts?" queried Giz.
"No, of course not, you muppet!"
"Why are they called that then?!"
"Don't know. Maybe because they like to eat nuts."
"Wow, Bettz, you know EVERYTHING! Are there any owls?"
"It's a bit early in the evening but, yes, there are owls around here."
Gisèle's little face lit up at once. "Oh WOW!" she squeaked excitedly, "I want to see a big white pretty snowy owl, like Hedwig out of Harry Potter!"
"I think those ones are a bit rare," muttered Betty, "They're mostly brown owls and tawny owls around here..."
"I like Hedwig best, as well as Ginny and Dobby and Hermione. [Harry Potter characters] And I like Sirius too."
"Is Sirius that one who was a big dog sometimes?" queried Betty, with a sideways glance at her diminutive friend.
"Hihi, yes." giggled Giz.
"I liked him too, hur hur-"
"But Hedwig is my very favourite. I wish I could be her."
Betty was about to reply with a considered response on the ultimate fate of the brave and faithful Hedwig, when a series of unsettling sounds came from within the canopy of a tree overhead. She gave a sharp intake of breath and pushed Gisèle hastily in another direction, causing the little Parson Jack Russell to stumble.
"Ow!" protested Giz, "What did you do that for?!"
"That's a buzzard's nest, up there!" hissed Betty, "Didn't you recognise the sounds?"
"I have never heard them before." replied Giz.
"Well, trust me, that's the sound of a buzzard with some chicks. Stay AWAY little Giz, stay away." But I could see that Giz had ceased paying attention at the mention of chicks...
"Ooh - babies?" she yipped, turning and trying to crane her head to look up at the nest, "I love little babies!"
"Not these ones, you won't." grunted Betty, as she firmly steered Giz away from the tree. Fortunately, Betty's vast reserves of strength and determination were too powerful for the reluctant Giz to resist.
Relief at Betty's ability to put herself between little Giz and mortal peril unhappily began to evaporate some 40 minutes later, however, when Gisèle was to be spotted slinking back towards the tree containing the nest with Betty nowhere to be seen. Unease was further heightened when, after a quick glance about her to check that all coasts were clear, the tiny terrier jumped up and began to clamber awkwardly up the tree...
"Oooff..." she puffed, as she tenaciously scaled branch after branch, sliding back on some, but determined not to be thwarted, "Errgh! Oops - hngyehh! Hup! Errrkkkk! That's it - errfff!"
The female buzzard perching on the side of the nest looked down at the small dog, with an inscrutable expression in her beady eyes. She didn't seem to comprehend what she was seeing. I can't bark that I blame her. Giz glanced up at the raptor. "Oh! Hello!" she puffed, still trying to haul herself up into the higher branches, "My name is Gisèle, but my friends call me Giz! What's your name?"
The buzzard made an uncertain noise that sounded like "Beakrip."
"That's nice! Please can I look at your babies?" The buzzard continued to gaze down at the tree-climbing dog, but made no further sound. Eventually, Giz attained a level from which she could peek at the nest. There were two fluffy chicks and one cream and brown mottled egg. "Oh, aren't they beautiful?!" she simpered. This was not what I would have called them personally, but Giz's enthusiasm wasn't to be dampened by the sight of some of the ugliest spawn known to either man or beast. "And will that egg hatch soon? What do you feed them? I expect they eat a lot and leave you very tired out, don't they?!"
The buzzard continued to watch Gisèle in silence, although it didn't escape me that she had inched closer to her around the side of her nest.
"I haven't had any babies yet, but I would like to one day. But, to be honest with you, Bea, I've got my paws pretty full at the moment with Betty. She's my best friend and is a Giant Schnauzer. She's older than me, but sometimes she does take a lot of looking after. She's nice to me now, but it wasn't always like that, I can tell you, oh dear me no. She tore into my face with her teeth once, that wasn't very nice. It's all healed up now of course - well, I say all healed, there are still some little scars although you can't see those now that the fur has grown back. But you see this mark here?" Giz inclined her head in the buzzard's direction, to show her a scar on her eyebrow, but didn't wait to see if the buzzard looked. "That was Betty as well. Oh, I mean ages ago now, but the fur didn't grow back properly. I don't mind that, though, because it's only really small. I don't know where Betty is at the moment. She went off into the woods to do some toilet, I think, but she won't be too long, I don't expect. Then I can introduce you. You'll like Betty. She can be a bit grumpy and rude sometimes but actually she's really very nice, and quite funny when she gets going. She's not very good at climbing trees though, not like me, but I've done lots of practice-"
Beakrip the buzzard simply sat there and blinked at the chattering terrier. It didn't seem as though she could even begin to imagine what a little dog was doing, half-way up a tree, prattling utter nonsense at her. Gisèle continued happily gossiping away until her flow was interrupted by an almighty and thunderous roar.
"GISÈLE! What are you DOING?!? Get DOWN from there right NOW, you ludicrous tool!"
"Betty! I'm just talking to my new friend! Come and say hello!"
"COME DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!"
"Oh dear; she sounds a bit cross. I'd better go." Gisèle turned and looked down, pondering her descent strategy (never a strong point). "But, before I do, I should tell you - you see that clump of little trees over there?" The buzzard blinked and glanced briefly in the direction Giz indicated. "Well, there is a very fresh dead rabbit behind there. It must have just died, it doesn't even have - you know - the smell yet and there weren't any flies on it. Me and Betty wanted to eat it, but Mistress wouldn't let us. But YOU might like it, for your babies. It would save you a hunting trip, wouldn't it, and I bet your babies would love all that fresh tasty meat." Open astonishment registered in the buzzard's eyes for the first time, though she remained silent. "Bye for now then. I'll come and see you again another time. Make sure you get that rabbit before someone else does! Bye-bye!" And, with that, Giz slithered clumsily down part of the tree and fell the rest of the way to the ground. Once she was back on her feet, Betty gave her a sharp cuff around the shoulder and commenced a stern lecture on the follies of presenting one's self to carnivores who might quite like to eat one.
The buzzard silently watched the two bickering dogs as they ambled back to the car park, rejoining my partner by the gate. Then, with a soft swish of her wings, she rose into the air and glided smoothly over to the clump of little trees...
Mark my barks, dear reader. No good will come of this...
Good evening to you.