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|Saturday 16th July 2011, 15:11||#1|
A Peregrine Watches
Between us the wheat field, both sage green and biscuit-golden in half-ripeness. On the steeple the Peregrine. He sits and surveys, looking down on the world.
Between us, after the rain, in a brief shaft of sun, a Purple hairstreak sets off back to the oak, from which the rain and wind had washed it. It disappears in the leaf clusters as a Whitethroat hunts beneath, twixt the vine and the shed roof, a young bird learning the ropes.
Further out a swarm of Wood pigeons clatters into the crop, and sparrows - House and Tree - swirl over the ears and dive beneath the surface to feed. The Peregrine tips his hooded head and sees all. Around his steeple Swifts arc amongst the wet slate sky, darker than the grey, and House martins blink as they turn.
Nearby a Sparrowhawk's commotion: she has prey tucked beneath and ignores the Swallows and Starlings as she rises over the gardens and heads for the church - straight toward the falcon, who turns his body head-on, now white against the grey-brown stones behind him.
Still the hawk goes on, the little lump of the catch dangling temptingly below, rising upslope to the steeple, crossing just below the Peregrine who strides along his ledge to watch her pass. But he does not fly.
A group of Black-headed gulls circles over the field, a juvenile squealing with its parents. Now the Peregrine has turned again - his slaty back cryptic as he all but blends with the mason's work. His head swivels and bobs, but still he sits. Lesser black-backs now slide past - along the ridge on which the church sits; the hawk has found a thermal and has risen to make for her nest.
A Mistle thrush launches from a tree to undulate to already ripened rowens whose bright berries hang in bunches by the lane. The Peregrine watches. Now a male Sparrowhawk - his place at the nest swapped for his mate's - and he flaps past, unaware of the falcon: but the falcon is aware of him, and turns to keep his eyes on the little predator as a Carrion crow scolds it and the Mistle thrush rushes back to better cover.
The rain begins again and the Peregrine presses against the wall of the octagonal steeple, in its lee. Magpies and I head for shelter. When the rain stops the falcon, of course, has flown.
Known to follow bird waves.
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