Peregrine falcon attack!

We were walking at last out of the little town of Duncannon, PA. It was a bleak little town. The people were friendly and seemed happy enough, but the buildings were crumbling and smelled of stale cigarettes. We had spent the night in a hotel of impressive and indescribable filth, though it has a spot in the hearts of many hikers, perhaps their Chelsea Hotel of sorts. Trains thundered past a block away, at fifteen minute increments all night.

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The trail passes right through the town, so we’d sleepily gotten our groceries and sunscreen and were ready to head out. (As we left the parking lot of Mutzabaugh’s Market, a man pulled up next to us with his finger out the window. “Stamp for your postcard,” he said. The guy must’ve overheard me asking the clerk if they sold singles… stuck on his fingertip was a first class Love stamp. These are the daily occurrences that crack my heart open a little in gratitude.)

We crossed four frightening lanes of traffic and got onto the footbridge crossing the Susquehanna River next to the highway. “Is this even the trail?” Zippy wondered. “Yeah, look,” I said. Strapped to a support beam was a flyer entreating hikers to contact a certain researcher if we spotted a Peregrine falcon on the bridge. “They wouldn’t put a note to hikers here if it weren’t.”

And then we saw it. Perched on a lamp post high over the freeway. Right over us, matching exactly the flyer’s description of a falcon. It looked at us. We gaped back. A falcon!

In our delight, we began singing an obscure song by an obscure band: I’m a Falcon by punk cello group Tornado Rider. (Google it, there’s probably a grainy version on YouTube.)

I’m a falcon,
I’m a falcon,
I’m a falcon,
Vicious bird, vicious bird,
Powerful bird!

And that’s when it dive-bombed us. It dove and wheeled around us. “Kek kek kek kek kek!” it shrieked. It swooped under the bridge and back, likely protective of a nest beneath. I felt like Tippi Hedren. I didn’t think it would would actually attack, but it feinted at us all along the bridge, displaying its wingspan and flashing its flinty eyes.

It was thrilling, our most dramatic wildlife sighting yet. But since we didn’t get any photos, anticlimactically I will leave you instead with an image of the red eft, a fashionable newt.

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