Thursday, March 13, 2008

If you need me, just whistle...

Today on Haddenham fen I met a beagler who told me that Harris's Hawks respond to whistling and that if I had whistled that one the other day at Aldreth, it might well have come down and landed on my wrist.
Many years ago, when I was Secretary of Christchurch Harbour Ringing Station, and therefore a person of some standing, I went into the ringing garden, an old corporation Nursery, where two youngsters, about 13-14, told me there was a strange and noisy bird in the pines at the top of the Nursery. I heard it whistle, so I imitated its whistle. It emerged from the pines and flew in our direction down into a low birch. I whistled again, it responded and flew closer, landing in a tree heather. I whistled yet again, and the bird - one of the Amazon green parrots - came and landed on my shoulder. The look of amazement and pure admiration on the faces of my young companions was a joy to behold! Of course I stayed cool, like, man, no big deal, I do this kind of stuff every day. Bless them, they clearly believed that I was the King of all Bird People, the St Francis of Christchurch Harbour.
I took the bird home with me, and it bit my wife's bum, which I regarded as a small price to pay for glory, an opinion not shared by Mrs Allsop.

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