By: Graham Scarbrough
One of the treats offered by hours upon hours spent on the observation platform is the occasional brief, intimate look into the lives of the wildlife that surrounds it. Of course, seeing 390 Merlins pass overhead in a single day is exhilarating; but for myself, it is the more personal experiences that hold a special place in my memory. I can try to describe what it was like seeing a Peregrine Falcon stoop across the sky and miss snatching a Merlin by a matter of inches as it back-flipped, allowing the larger falcon to pass just underneath. I can attempt to articulate how a Merlin displayed its athletic ability by plucking a Tree Swallow right out of the air, or how another Merlin possessed an almost puzzled look as sat on a nearby pole and picked at the aluminum band around its leg. But I know all of that would be useless. The only way to fully appreciate those experiences is to have been there and seen them with ones own eyes. I love the modern camera as much as the next person but I must admit: I often find myself remembering the picture more readily than the memory itself. Some of my most cherished memories are only in my mind and I believe that is not a coincidence. What makes those memories so valuable to me is that they, and the feelings associated with them, remained uncaptured by video or a photograph. Whether they were moments of awe inspired by nature, or moments filled with a most profound sense of love, or friendship, they will always be in me. Not possessed by me, but filling me, and the few others fortunate enough to share in such a moment.
"All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish." - Aldo Leopold