Real Hawks and the Spy

This week I’m abandoning Nathan Hawk, whose latest appearance on BookBub (Haggard Hawk, the first I ever wrote) brought a staggering 60 odd thousand downloads, and many requests to follow it up with another gruesome crime to solve. Which I will do, just as soon as I’ve finished The Fire Pit. Meantime, at least for a day while we do the work, my son and I are turning our attention to the real thing…

Where I live, just north of the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire (also the setting for Midsomer Murders, which I wrote a ton of, so it’s a dangerous place!) is home to quite a few members of the genus accipiter. The Red Kite is the most common, reintroduced to the area twenty odd years ago and now so successful that some of them are the size of geese! A pair of Peregrines still nests on top of Aylesbury Council Offices, a fine use of the ugliest building in the county. Buzzards are also fairly common along with the Little Owl. One used to call to us from our wood, late in the evening, and my wife would call back – and get an answer. She won’t say what they talked about. But … but, of special interest to me last year was a pair of Kestrels.

A couple of years ago Duncan and I put up an owl box on a large chestnut in the wood and, low and behold, it was taken up the very first year. By Wood Pigeons.

Last year, however, a pair of Kestrels decided to move in: they evidently like pre-owned nests. They stayed from the end of March to well into summer, but times were I wouldn’t see them for days on end then, just as I was starting to think I’d done something to offend them, they would appear. I spent far too long with a pair of binoculars, chin over the dividing fence, getting splinters. This year, in the hope that we’ll get a return visit we’re installing a wireless camera in the box. If the Kestrels return I’ll post some video.

Just fancy having every moment of your life recorded by a crime writer in the shed at the other side of the wood…


Douglas Watkinson is an English novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

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