A few days ago there was another aerial show. A dark menacing sky would have been suitable, but it was tinfoil bright. If it had been sea instead of sky, and the subject suicide instead of murder, it would have been a perfect day for bananafish!
A flock of pigeons were doing something odd, but contrary to my earlier experiences, where the hunted flock flew ultra-slowly, this time the flock were careering round as if being chased – as indeed they were. It was a peregrine, this time just doing the honest thing of trying to flap faster and turn tighter – no spectacular stoop, though I didn’t see the start of the hunt.
Twice it singled one out, but each time, as the jinks and the missed grabs were at their closest, the pigeon emitted some white droppings, like a plane emitting infra-red flare lures, which allowed it to escape. I must see if I can remember that strategy the next time I’m in mortal danger. But it does seem that pigeons have at least two strategies when chased – fly fast as well as slow. In this case the pigeon wasn’t flying tightly in a flock though, which might explain the difference.
After the first close approach I hailed a pleasant old cove shutting the gate to the allotments on his way home, blissfully unaware of the drama aloft, as if he’d been in that painting of Daedalus falling into the sea. But he immediately twigged, and found the peregrine, which I’d lost. He wasn’t a peregrine fan. I ought to be careful who I talk to about raptors: many round here prefer pigeons. While we watched there was another droppings-assisted narrow escape.
Then a funny thing happened. I got bored! Well, I had been on a bit of a walk and wanted to get home, my neck was fed up with craning, and my eyes fed up with staring into the sun. I went round a corner onto the river path, looked up, and saw a sparrowhawk with decidedly rosy underparts near the rear, vaguely half thinking about having a go at a swift that was cavorting nearby. Maybe it hoped it could benefit from the distraction above. I always assume that if I’m aware of a raptor, every other bird in the air is too.
A good day then. A few doors from my house a mayfly on the pavement was trying to walk out of the sun before I could deploy my k750i. With the sun on it it would have made a fab snap, but suppose I’d already been lucky enough that day!