Monday, October 19, 2009

Hawks and Falcons

A couple of years back I lost a fair bit of weight by eating well (lots of salads etc) and walking a lot, especially in the Port Hills not far from my home. And then I went back to work full time, and winter arrived, and gradually I put it all on again.

I decided it was time for action, so I have been back to the salads for the last couple of months, and have been trying to walk to and from work (about half an hour each way) three days a week. I decided it was time to increase the activity level a bit, especially since the walk to work is flat. so at the weekend I headed for the hills.

I didn't get very far up, but will aim for further next time. As I was heading downhill, I saw a large number of black and white feathers clinging to the grass in a roughly circular area about half a metre across. There's only one bird around here with feathers like that - a magpie. (The same as the Australian magpie, which is an entirely different bird from the British magpie). My first thought was that it had been killed and eaten by a hawk. I often see one gliding above the hills, searching for prey. My second thought was that a magpie was surely too big to be taken by a hawk. Magpies are quite fierce birds, especially at this time of year, when they will dive bomb anyone getting too close to their nests, as unwary cyclists and joggers sometimes find to their peril. In fact, in nesting season, even some joggers will wear helmets. And cyclists apparently find that two large eyes painted on the back of their helmets will deter magpies.

I did briefly ponder the possibility of a dog, but it is lambing season, and dogs aren't allowed on the hill tracks where sheep graze.

In one of those intriguing coincidences, there was a programme on birds on TV that evening, and they showed the New Zealand falcon, which is similar to the hawk, but smaller and faster. Among the range of birds they showed that are taken by falcons were magpies. So perhaps my original thought was not wrong after all.

1 comment:

Kay Cooke said...

I really enjoyed that programme on the NZ falcon.
Enjoy your new fitness regime.