Have I wandered too many cliffsides, or need I wander more?
“Is this what you do? Just wander back and forth looking for animals?” Words from a local hiker out for a walk yesterday at my latest obsessive destination. “Not animals, just two birds,” I replied. We each carried on. Twice a week for the last few, I’ve spent hours scouring the sides of a particular ridge (that I am purposely keeping anonymous) and photographing its peregrine pair in all of their splendor. Apparently it’s just slightly more difficult to remain inconspicuous with a 500mm resting on my shoulder.
On the best days I have the cliffs to myself. I walk freely up and down the ridge, following the birds as I wish. Their habits have become predictable with time, choosing familiar perches, circling for lift on the right winds. I know just how close I can be, and how comfortable they are with me standing around staring. This time of year, the male hunts while his mate sits on the nest. Each day I’m there, he delivers her a new prey item. Last week a young red-winged blackbird, yesterday a mourning dove. I’ve began to predict what it will be in days following. It’s all so familiar, bringing me back to the start of this journey along the Palisades cliffs of Jersey. I with many others would wait high above the Hudson river, and stake out a different pair of peregrines; the pair that sparked my addiction. It was always a social gathering it seemed, very seldom allowing solitude. But here, hundreds of miles from any Parkway, I’ve found a haven. This is a place where I can escape and feel a true appreciation for a remarkable species. A real environment, all in my loneliness.