A Surprising Walk in the Park
I often used to take walks through a local park which represented a pleasant oasis in the midst of an unfortunate urban sprawl. It has to be said that this small conservation area was largely unremarkable but it was green and traffic free! It was always nice to engage with nature on a lunchtime stroll but the park rarely served up any interesting sightings.
I did stumble across several cranes by the river which runs through the park and there were inevitably a few swans and ducks around. I also found deer on two occasions in 18 years but aside from the many dogs who visited the area, I rarely encountered any other interesting animals.
But my last walk in the park turned out to be much more exciting than usual.
A Tall Gentlemen in Fishing Attire
I had taken a seat on a bench whilst my dogs and my friend’s cocker spaniel were having fun chasing each other around. After a few minutes, a tall gentlemen appeared dressed in what I though was fishing attire. This made me sit up and take notice as spaniel could smell food from a mile off and liked to steal anglers’ bread.
As the man approached, the spaniel immediately started to jump up at him. But despite his camouflaged clothing, he did not appear to have any fishing equipment with him. I figured that he must be returning to a site further upstream after taking a break. But then he started to whistle loudly. I couldn’t see any dogs, other than the mutts that were with me so I couldn’t work out what or who the guy was whistling at. It was when he extended an arm and I saw the gauntlet that I realised he was whistling to recall a bird of prey
A Stunning Bird
A gorgeous hawk then swooped down and landed on the man’s arm. I watched for several minutes as the bird flew up into the trees and then back to its owner. What an amazing and unexpected site! I wanted to know more and so I started firing questions at the poor man who was probably trying to enjoy a few minutes of peace.
He informed me that his bird was a Harris hawk and that her name was Ellie. He had trained Ellie himself and used her for hunting. He also told me that he regularly visited the park with his bird and I couldn’t believe that I had managed to miss him as I walked their almost every day. I began to wonder what else I had failed to notice! Perhaps there was interesting wildlife to see and I just hadn’t been paying enough attention.
Keeping My Eyes Peeled
Sadly, my unexpected encounter took place the day before I moved house and it is unlikely that I will ever see Ellie the Harris Hawk again. But I have learnt that I should keep my eyes open at all times when I am out and about and that it pays to look up from time to time. I had bemoaned the lack of interesting birdlife in the park perhaps it was there all along.