Bird Of Prey

Today’s run was turning into a nightmare. Wasn’t planning to go but another power cut prematurely ended work for the day. Thirty minutes later I was trying to run uphill into strong headwind. Already my mojo was rapidly ebbing away. A glance to the heavens (maybe for inspiration) stopped me in my tracks. A stunning predator was circling almost immediately above me.

Given how badly my running was going I’m surprised it wasn’t a vulture.

For a wonderful few minutes it was man against beast. A perfectly designed flying acrobat versus a muppet with his mobile phone camera. Only ever going to be one winner. So the photos are a little lacking in sharpness.

My running struggles were long forgotten.

Five minutes later my new feathered friend was off.

Now on my own the quick realisation that standing still in this icy gale force wind was not great for exposed legs. What possessed me to wear shorts. I was absolutely frozen . The prospect of a warm shower contributed to a rapid return run. My mojo was definitely healed by the encounter. We are so fortunate to have birds of prey hunt in the farmers field behind the house. It’s such a thrill for our Son. To get glimpses of these spectacular birds and not have to leave the safety of his garden.

Our Son has always loved animals. Of all his toys the birds of prey were always amongst his favourites and centre stage in his games. He developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things to do with falconry. When he was a little older he got the chance to handle some of his most loved birds.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen kids with Aspergers bond with birds of prey.

From about the age of five Son started to struggle at school. Suddenly he was withdrawing from group activities, becoming more insular and ill at ease with society. He would avoid physical interaction and all eye contact. So utterly unsure of himself and lacking in confidence outside of the safety of his home. Yet here was the same kid who was at ease and completely relaxed in the presence of these mighty hunters. Happily handling them. Intense, unblinking eye contact with Peregrines and Hawks. Face to face no more than a few inches between them. Complete confidence. Utter love.

Birds of Prey are truly majestic creatures who have another wonderful trait. They don’t harbour any misguided notions of prejudice.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of beautiful Switzerland.

This times it’s a delightful alpine meadow walk in Wimmis.

Wimmis is a small municipality in the canton of Bern. A short walk from our hotel in Spiez finds us out into the meadows and heading towards Wimmis.

Alpine meadows make for some of the most relaxing walking country on the planet.

On one side you get glimpses of Lake Thun. Looking the other way brings on glorious views of The Alps.

For most of the walk we had the privilege of being accompanied by stunning birds of prey. Son was in awe. His encyclopaedic knowledge in full flow.

After a couple of hours it was classed as most definitely a two ice lolly walk.

Bird of Prey

Thankfully we made it to the end of the week. Some random animal photos helped. But it’s the weekend and at least for a few hours our son is in a happy place. While he is happy then I am happy.

A few weeks ago we talked about his second favourite animal in the world. Let’s meet his favourite now.

The Peregrine Falcon.

Since an early age he has just loved the Peregrine. Luckily he has had the opportunity on a couple of occasions to handle this just stunning bird of prey. In the U.K. one of our main nature presenters is Chris Packham. He has Aspergers and is brilliant. A tireless campaigner for good. Chris has openly talked about his life with Aspergers. As a child he developed a special bond with a Kestrel. His fascination and bond with the Kestrel mirrors that of our son with the Peregrine.

I now hand over to our son for fact time (his words now)

  • The Peregrine is the fastest animal on the planet. Likely to be the fastest creature ever to live on earth. Potentially the fastest creature in the Universe. In its dive (the stoop) it can reach over 215mph
  • They have special baffles in the nose to stop them blacking out during dives
  • Sometimes called Duck Hawks
  • Favourite diet is pigeons, starlings, doves,
  • It’s nest site is called an eyrie
  • Wingspan is 3ft
  • It flies high, uses its super eyesight to see prey below. folds its wings like a jet fighter and nose dives towards its prey. It will then strike its prey with great force.
  • They can be kleptoparasites. Steal pray off other birds.
  • Lifespan up to 15 years
  • They have larger eyes than humans and can see prey over 300m away

Mr Hawk

We have a top 50 list of animals in our house. It is a close battle for positions 3 to 50. But the top 2 are so far clear and both creatures have always been so close to our son’s heart.

Above is our son’s second favourite creature on the planet. I present to you the Harris Hawk. The smile on our son’s face when he got to hold the Hawk. I just wish his mum was there to see it. The handler started a pre handling safety checklist. The first question was to ask our son if he knew anything about the bird. Five minutes later. The handler said ‘remarkable’ and just handed the glove to our son and said “here’s the bird, you know more than I do, I’ll come back in 10 minutes.” For 10 minutes the bird of prey and our son just gazed into each other’s eyes. The bird never moved once.

We watched the next person handle the bird. The bird never stayed still flapping his wings and trying to peck. Completely different to his nature a few minutes ago. I just hope his dream of having a falconry comes true.