To continue, briefly, this series of British birds in action, this afternoon, as there was no football on, I watched Market Harborough Rugby Club bash out a well-deserved victory over Leicester Forest (30-odd to 12, I think). They’re a good side at the moment, incidentally, and well worth watching.
My attention was, though, sometimes distracted by the sight of a kestrel, or windhover hovering over what I suppose must have been the verge of the Northampton Road. Kestrels have adapted themselves to modern life by hovering near to major roads and waiting for their prey to get run over though, in fairness, this one might have been hovering over the field that lies between the Northampton Road and the Brampton Valley Way.
Anyway, here is a rather beautiful film of a kestrel in action (I didn’t catch the swoop, if there was one – too absorbed in the onfield action) –
And here is a relevant poem – The Windhover, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (I think, having watched the film, you will be able to see what he means) –
The Windhover: To Christ Our Lord
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird — the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.