Monday 19 March 2018


Sutton, the unlovely town a couple of miles from the demiparadise I call home, is blessed with many tall buildings and a thriving population of feral pigeons. For this reason, it has proved attractive in recent years to peregrine falcons, to whom a tall building is as good as a cliff and feral pigeons are so many flying lunchpacks. A pair has nested annually on one of the town's office blocks, and last year reared a brood of six, but, despite my best efforts, I hadn't once seen a Sutton peregrine until today.
 As I turned into a bitterly cold wind tunnel of a street, just off the High Street, I looked up and saw something rather impressive flying overhead – a kestrel, I thought at first, but no, the shape was wrong. Could it be? It was – a peregrine falcon, which, as I watched it,  rose elegantly to the top of a very tall and hideous apartment block, where it was joined by a second peregrine. I stood for some while, braced against the biting wind, and watched as the pair of them gracefully rode the thermals (there can't have been much thermal about them today) eddying around their urban cliff face. It was a joyous and beautiful sight, the more so for being so entirely unexpected. Maybe next time I'll see one stooping on a feral pigeon – that would be something to see.

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