Battle of the Birds

January 12, 2015 on 6:45 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on Battle of the Birds

The desperate battle of the birds. And, no, not a rare Friday night girl-fight, and no talk of the pibroch generally known by that name; a few words this moment on fighting flying feathered creatures.

There’s a good few titles in the pipe music repertoire that feature birds, especially hawks: “The Hawk”, “The Hawk that Swoops on High”, “Ca’ Hawkie thro’ the Water” from David Glen’s collection (though doubt Hawkie was a bird – with or without feathers), the Australian Simon Blackshaw’s, “Howlin’ Hawks” and, my favourite title of the lot, Chris Armstrong’s, “Dive Bombing Shitehawks”. I even have a ditty that falls in the category of hawk: “Like a Hawk” – have a look in my free book five if you’re interested.

So now that I’ve given myself an excuse to post some hawk pics on a piping blog, I’ll carry on.

Yesterday I was out in the woods. While walking along the trail a huge hawk swooped by about 15 meters in front of me. The bird was clearly carrying a heavy burden. Hanging lifeless (I hope) from his beak was what I thought was a crow. I say crow because the hawk was under siege by two relentlessly screeching black crows – these birds also of impressive size. While I thought it weird a hawk would eat crow – like so many of us do (or should) – I had it in my mind the crows were trying to rescue kin: the previously-mentioned fresh black dangling carrion.

Led by the siren shrieks of the crows I moved toward the hawk, now resting at the side of the frozen lake, planning, no doubt, the timely scarfing of his warmish makings of crow pie.

Hawk with prey at lakeside

The crows gave up – or fled the scene – after about five minutes of caterwauling. The hawk, in turn, flew a few meters into the shoreline field. Had I been on Benbecula I’d almost call this grassy area a machair. So I made my way to where I thought the hawk landed. And lucky me, there, clearly visible through the snow-covered grass, he perched. There was no clear sign of his prey but he was in plain view and seemingly wasn’t bothered in the least with me. So I chanced it and crept closer to him to get what I hoped would be a good photo.

Hawk attacked by crow at lakeside

It was while keenly clicking the camera shutter about 3.5 meters away from him that I had a vision: a vision of me with no vision. I imagined the hawk pissed off with his meal-time interruption – me. Kind of like how your father might’ve been if one of your friends knocked on the door at suppertime – only times ten (sorry, I digress). I don’t know much, if anything, about the behaviour of hawks but I wasn’t about to test my imagined hawk-eye-plucking vision.

Close up of the hawk

So I backed off. And carried on (carrion – get it? Oh my ribs). Good advice, probably, for a lot of life situations.

When I got home and looked closely at the pics I’m fairly sure I’m wrong – again! The imagined crow looks pretty squirrelly to me.

Whatever. You be the judge.

I found the whole thing fascinating.


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