Some people love Christmas shopping. The noise, the trip hazards, the bustle of the streets, the jostling of the crowds. The vague hope of grabbing some old tat to wrap up before the shops knock the Xmas price down in the New Year Sales in the desperate hope of offloading Yule gifts that are way past their sell-by-date come late Christmas Eve.
Well, as perhaps gather from the tone of that introduction, I’m not particularly keen on shopping, Christmas or otherwise…I did venture into town yesterday and made a few desultory purchases under the contractual obligations of the festive season. However, one thing that makes any shopping trip far more bearable is a chance encounter with people with whom you might well not otherwise encounter.
Yesterday, for instance, I chatted with sitar-playing busker Paul who takes his Saker Peregrine with him everywhere he goes around town and as charming and engaging a chap you are unlikely to meet. Read my blog story about that hybrid raptor, which goes by the name of Daffy, because she makes a peculiar quacking noise.
Having chatted at length with Paul about his former employ as a pest-bird-controller on a rubbish dump in partnership with Daffy, I turned a few corners, did a smidgeon more Christmas shopping, and ended up wandering up King’s Parade on the off-chance that the Cambridge wild Peregrines were about. As I’ve discussed previously, the city has a pair that nest on one of the taller buildings in town. They also shuttle their time between King’s College Chapel and the university library, caching their kills on the towers, turrets and rooftops.
As luck would have it, as I arrived, the local pigeon population was in a frenzy, whirling in flocks around the rooftops and for good reason, both Peregrines were about. I didn’t see either stoop on any of the pigeons but they did eventually alight on a chapel turret momentarily before a vigorous altercation saw them flap away and head for their nest site further south.
Intriguingly, from the blogging point of view, I usually see several hundred visitors, if not thousands, to the more popular posts within a day or so of posting. This tale of Paul and his Peregrine, of the wild Cambridge Peregrine pair, and other aspects of the shopping trip seem not to have attracted quite as much attention, just 300 or so readers so far. I wonder why. Maybe everyone else was out shopping too…
I did bump into at least one friend, she and the friends she was with were impressed to see the Peregrines, but they wouldn’t have bumped the visitor numbers significantly either. Nor would the Jehovah’s Witnesses Tanya and James who were touting for godly business in front of King’s Chapel while I attempted to photograph the birds. Interestingly, they recognised the birds as Peregrines and were interested to hear more about them. The students and tourists who waltzed past and were taken in by the punt touts didn’t seem to ever even look to the skies. Strange world where shopping is more interesting than nature, maybe it’s just me…