Co-incidences happen. Though sometimes co-incidences occur which, if one was of an impressionable cast of mind, might suggest that ‘there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy‘*.
One such happened to me last week in Spain. As regular readers of this blog will know, I have been researching and writing about hunting with hawks, mainly because the sequel to ‘Reconquista‘ includes a new character who is a falconer. This lead to a number of articles on The Story Bazaar, including The Pursuit and Literary Birds.
Last Friday I was writing a chapter in which two of my main characters are up in the Sierra El Endrinal, where they take shelter on a mountain ledge which, they discover, is also home to a pair of birds of prey. The following Saturday was a lovely sunny day, with the temperature up in the twenties and I had already planned to go out with a friend to her place at the beach. Another friend joined us and, after giving the dogs a run around and buying the wherewithal to make a good picnic, we headed out to his house in the campo. This gave me some useful background for my book (and made the three dogs very happy indeed).
It was while out walking there that one of the dogs began behaving strangely, reluctant to leave a particular patch of ground. We soon found out why. Half hidden in a pile of fallen leaves there was a bird, its beady eye almost the only element which distinguished it from the mound around it. Taking great care, we brushed away the leaves to reveal a wonderful creature, a young hawk. It had the classic rounded head and viciously hooked yellow beak, but also bright yellow-ringed black eyes and feathers which ranged from pale fawn to deep brown and black. It’s plumage wasn’t fluffy, so it had fledged a while ago, probably earlier this year, but it wasn’t full size. It also, quite clearly, had a broken wing.
The dogs were banished to the car and we set about extracting the bird from its hiding place. It couldn’t fly and, if Wendy the dog could find it, so could other creatures which might be less innocently curious. If we left it where it was it would probably die or be killed.
The bird was persuaded from its lair (my friend cradling it delicately in her hands, ignoring its beak and talons) into a large cardboard box lined with old clothes . Off we set to find a refuge or rescue centre. But the sun was already setting in a blaze of red on the horizon. By the time we got to any habitation it would be much too late to find anywhere open.
Thus I acquired a feathered house guest for the night. A wild hawk.
It was an exquisite and beautiful creature, with a fierce, quick-moving eye. When startled its feathers bristled and it seemed to glower at me for my presumption. I provided water, but my larder didn’t run to dead rodents, so I tried raw bacon, the only other meat product I had available. Hawk was unimpressed. We stared at each other for a while.
It was warm in the room and the hawk, not to mention its landlady, grew drowsy. I cut extra air-holes in the top flaps of the box and weighted the lid down, so as to prevent the bird from escaping and damaging itself trying to fly. After a few minutes I heard it settle down, presumably to sleep, and I went off to do the same.
When morning came my guest was getting restless and more vocal, emitting little whistling sounds followed by one hair-raising shriek. Heaven knows what my neighbours thought this was, coming from my flat on a Sunday morning, but I took it as a good sign. Hawk was alive and kicking. My friend, having finished her shift at the local hospital, subsequently collected it and took it to a bird recuperation centre. Fortunately, given the proximity of the Donana, one of the largest nature reserves in Europe, and birds migratory patterns, this part of Spain does not lack in such facilities.
This was my co-incidence. Now I will, somehow, have to incorporate Hawk into my book.
*Hamlet to Horatio, Act I, Scene 5.
N.B. None of the above are photos of Hawk. I tried to take some but the light was dim and I didn’t want to use the flash and startle the bird. So, I regret, I have none.