Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Faster than a speeding bullet….

After my travails and travels last week I have been getting back to the garden…. Well, mostly sitting on my IKEA orange plastic seat (Hey, style guru or what?) on the grass, cat on my lap, beer in my hand, Zepp’ on the CD and gazing up at the sky, trying to make objects out of the fluffy white clouds…..

It’s amazing what a bit of imagination and a couple of cans of super strength lager can achieve. All of a sudden, I’m seeing fluffy cars, bouncy castles, a portrait of Terry Wogan with his toupee sliding off, a five mile wide teddy bear spun from finest white gossamer and ……. A bird. This bird isn’t white though, and it isn’t meandering across the sky with all the urgency of a Network Rail service. This thing is doing a passable impression of Clark Kent’s alter ego in a bit of a hurry - because he only has 30 seconds to save the Earth.

The bird, black silhouette against the sky, has pressed the turbo supercharger and is hurtling towards the ground at an angle of about 40 degrees. Wings tucked well in to improve streamlining, he’s as straight as an arrow and it’s clear this feathered dude is on a mission.

As I watch, it dawns on me what I’m looking at.
It’s only a bloody Peregrine Falcon!
It’s only a bloody Peregrine Falcon doing its most famous aerial manoeuvre – The Stoop. This is where the falcon cruises at a high altitude looking for its favourite dish of the day – and it’s always pigeon that’s on the menu. Once spotted, using its fantastic eyesight with in-built telephoto lens set-up, it folds its wings – and drops.

The pigeon is usually history. The peregrine slams into it at full speed. The terrific impact means instant death for the rat of the skies. Sometimes its head is torn off with the body shock – and I’m watching it all happen.

This miracle of evolution has just screamed past me at a speed of up to 200 mph. The fastest bird in the sky - bar none…. Unbelievable.

Unfortunately, not living in the country means that the feathered bullet is soon hidden from view by number 28’s roof. So I don’t see the end of the drama.

One thing’s for sure though, Dick Dastardly, Muttley and all the rest of the Vulture Squadron could have learned a lot from what I’ve just watched….

Stop that pigeon, stop that pigeon, stop that pigeon now,
Nab him, grab him, stab him ………..

Or you could just get a Peregrine Falcon to take his head off, Dickey baby.

The Transit of Venus…..

Well, how was it for you?
For me it was mostly anti-climactic, in an ‘is that it’ kind of way. The ‘marvelling’ part of my brain did marvel though at how very small Venus was against the hugely vast, vastly huge vastness of The Sun.

"Hmmm, isn’t Venus very small against the massive flabby bulk of The Sun, how marvellous"……

Just as well really. The Sun burns 4 tonnes of fuel a second – a second! That’s 345,600 tonnes a day! Every day (including night!).

What a waste of fuel – especially in the Summer when it’s warm, what is needed is someone to turn down the solar thermostat at this time of the year – thereby saving fuel for when it’s really needed - in the depths of Winter…..

I’ll get me coat.