Eddie and I were taking a late afternoon stroll around the marsh, an activity that always involves at least as much sitting as walking, at least as much listening as talking. We do it often, but it’s become daily thing during Lockdown.
You can’t mistake a falcon for anything else – at least when you see it well and you’re not gazing wishfully at a distant pigeon. It’s the slim, swept back wings with sharp points, and the inordinate length and unbroken line of the body and tail behind them.
If it isn’t a kestrel you’re entitled to a little bit more excitement. As the bird flew past, pretty damn close to us, it was quite clear that this was no kes. Too burly. Too much power and directness in the flight.
But there was no sense of drama, no feeling of doom and destruction, nothing remotely sinister. That’s odd for a peregrine. Normally a peregrine has you reaching for the Thesaurus, a bird that needs to be showered with adjectives of the most impressive kind.
Not today. This was a matter-of-fact peregrine, an everyday sort of peregrine, a getting-on-with-the-job peregrine. Perhaps this was because he — no, I think it was she, from a more considerable size of her — wasn’t hunting, just going from A to B. Perhaps it was because the Norfolk countryside lacks the obvious drama of a mountain pass or a vertical cliff. Perhaps it was just the mood of our afternoon walk.
And there was something rather marvellous in that. This peregrine was part of the landscape. One more part of the ecosystem. Just one more nice bird in a nice place. These are our home acres: here was a homely peregrine.
We drank our drinks and talked about falcons and flight. “So how does a Frisbee fly…?” We discussed Bernoulli’s principle and gyroscopic stability until it was time to go back.