Wednesday, 17 November 2010


My bed-time reading at the moment is "The Peregrine" by JA Baker. The blurb on my US reprint says that he "set out to track the daily comings and goings of a pair of peregrine falcons across the flat fenlands of eastern England." There are at least three inaccuracies in that sentence! "...And as he continued his mysterious private quest, his sense of human self slowly dissolved, to be replaced with the alien and implacable consciousness of a hawk." Perhaps it is the Land of the Free speaking in the blurb, glorifying the "journey to the limits of the human", or perhaps it is just a man thing. The very English Robert MacFarlane writes in the Introduction with greater insight, but doesn't seem to have noticed the book's dedication "To My Wife", which puts me in mind of an amused toleration; tracking hawks and dissolving self in the daytime, warm and dry and well-fed at night.

But don't let the blurb put you off! Baker touches on the inscape of the peregrine, and writes beautifully. Here he is on the subject of the Essex mud:
"All day the low clouds lay above the marshes and thin rain drifted in from the sea. Mud was deep in the lanes and along the sea-wall; thick ochre mud, like paint; oozing glutinous mud that seemed to sprout on the marsh, like fungus; octopus mud that clutched and clung and squelched and sucked; slippery mud, smooth and treacherous as oil; mud stagnant; mud evil; mud in the clothes, in the hair, in the eyes; mud to the bone."
Coincidentally, peregrines are nesting up high on a Worcester spire. It is a regular spot, and nest cams are installed. So of course there is a website, and activity updates on Facebook.

At about 4pm, a kestrel crossed the cut and hovered briefly near the pond, before gliding east over the farmland. It seemed to shine golden even in the greyness of the afternoon.


  1. Dear Clare,
    We briefly met across the kitchen-chapel at Broad Marston when I came to see Stuart about our new Order of Anglican Cistercians. The community were about to move to Mucknell Abbey.
    I am very much enjoying reading your blog! Many thanks for the daily updates.
    Just to let you know, there are peregrines nesting at Symonds Yat too. I spent many a happy hour watching them feeding their young a few years ago. I presume that tyey are still there.
    Best wishes,
    Geoff van der Weegen, OCistA

  2. Sorry, not too technical with blogs and commenting on them... I am not an "anonymous" but did not fully understand the options... That is the trouble when you are an Old Sock like me! Our website is where you will also find my full address details. Sorry.

  3. Dear Geoff.
    I do remember you, though am a bit hazy with the number of people passing through. Thanks for the information re peregrines at Symonds Yat, which isn't far away and is always worth a visit. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
    Best wishes