The Kestrel

She sits on her favourite branch, which sways gently with the weight of her.  Around her the small birds alarm call their warnings. She ignores them, wings folded tight to her body, her head cocked slightly to one side, one could be forgiven for assuming that she is asleep.

She isn’t though.

She watches the ground below her, sensing before she sees the movement,hidden deep amongst the rough grass, and then silently she slips, swooping to the ground leading with her talons, but unsuccessful with her silent strike, she pulls back and returns to her perch.

Despite being fifty yards away, Gabby my Romanian rescue dog and not the most observant, has spotted the movement and for a moment she is tuned into the world around her, the public shelter and the pain and horror that she endured gone and momentarily forgotten.

Then Lilly my Collie, squeezes the rubber stick that she had been carrying, it squeaks and the moment is broken as Gabby bounces towards the noise before giving up, distracted by a strange scent. She stops and flops to the ground, her muscles still not use to the freedom that she now has.

I turn back to the kestrel. She has gone.

Further down the valley the alarm calls echo back against the limestone cliffs. I can she that she has moved to another tree another favourite branch. The sun highlighs the brown and bronze of her feathers and the slight breeze ruffles her tail slightly, so that she shifts carefully, almost imperceptibly, only I notice as I watch her through my binoculars.

I could stay here, observing her all morning, but the dogs are restless and I have things to do, so with one last glimpse I move on, calling the girls and bribing them with chicken pieces and biscuits.

The other birds have fallen silent, apart from the harsh, raucous call of a crow. We carry on with our walk, crashing through the undergrowth, the connection to the valley broken, but somewhere, from a branch or a stump, the kestrel sits, silently scanning the ground beneath her. Waiting to strike.

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