Saturday, 24 September 2016

A Close Shave

I know what you're thinking. It's about Dinorwig, so he'll have almost fallen over one of those vertiginous drops in the Garret sinc, or rolled down the C incline like a fleecy log in a flume. Ah, sorry to disappoint you, I'm still alive and typing - although there's time, it might happen yet.

No, this is a shave of a different kind.

So...Dinorwig.  I was confident that Petra and I would be impressed by the vast Australia Mill, the Compressor House, or the Caban with it's old coats and boots. How could we not be, after the anticipation engendered by all those wonderful photographs on the web. They didn't disappoint- and seeing them in the raw slate was so much more vivid and intriguing.
And yet...I found myself becoming attached to a couple of places that seemed to have a definite atmosphere about them; something hard to quantify, but that chimed with me. Places that were overlooked and little documented by the folk who love the place.

One such is the little drumhouse a couple of levels above Australia; I think we are talking about the Panws to Lernion incline, a straightforward Drum installation, although as always, I am open to advice on this from wiser heads than mine.

The point of this ramble is that the place is an isolated one, 1,800 feet above the valley. The ruined drumhouse is in the last throes of vertical life and will soon slowly sink to one side; gracefully, I imagine. It looks beautiful. Yes, I know, I have a strange idea of that concept since I like my landscapes punctuated by quarries and tips, but trust me, I trained as an artist you know.
And there we were, soaking up the atmosphere on an unusually sunny day hereabouts, not a soul to be seen anywhere. Petra was in the ruins, taking photographs. I was standing outside, gazing across the valley to Snowdon.

Then it happened. A curious sound, like the whoosh of an arrow. I felt something on my cheek and was very briefly aware of a shape; then it was gone and I saw a Sparrow Hawk come out of the crimp and soar upwards at fantastic speed. It took me a few moments to realise what had happened and, as the hawk flew off, a lovely little skylark emerged from the drum and quietly flitted away, seemingly unpeturbed by it's brush with death.

Grazed by the arrow of a hawk...they say that an accipiter's brain can percieve time more slowly, that it can plan it's incredible moves in detail, rather like a program to predict and compensate for the inherent instability of a fighter jet. It saw that lark, did a hawk-type risk assessment in split seconds and plotted a course through the steel spiders of the Drumhouse. It only made a tiny error, and caught me so gently as it flew down. One way or another- that was a close shave.


fifteenflatout said...

Iain, Thanks for sharing your brush with a skylark. Such things happen so quickly that it can be difficult to piece together what actually happened.


Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Geoff. Yes, it was all over in seconds...all in a day's work for that hawk, but I'm glad the lark survived this time :-)

geotopoi said...

Yes, indeed, thanks for sharing, Iain. Some lovely photographs there. Great colours and textures in the rust of the wire ropes.

Iain Robinson said...

Thank you, Graham, glad you enjoyed the post.

adcochrane said...

On reading the title I was wondering all kinds of trips, falls, rocks tumbling down a slope. Sounds a like fascinating flash of an encounter with nature. I had a similar though less close brush when I was watching some sparrows in my garden. As I turned there was a flash of a larger bird dive-bombing the sparrows. There was instant pandemonium amongst all the birds who scattered for shelter. I wasn't quite sure what had happened but I was sure it was a sparrowhawk and I think it might have carried off one of the sparrows. Very fast, very sudden, very violent when you think about it but ruthless and precise. Has to be with its own chicks to feed. I can tolerate that a lot more than when the flaming neighbourhood cats go for the birds with no good reason other than they fancy a kill.

Love the photo of the wire cables.

Iain Robinson said...

Thank you, Alex. It was an amazing encounter, and it's interesting to hear that you had a similar one. Kind of reminds you of the ferocity and inexorable purpose of nature. I feel the same about cats, they are sadistic killers and yet hide their natures by being so cute and cuddly. As you say, at least the hawk had to feed it's young or survive itself and I can agree with that, harsh though it is. Really pleased that you enjoyed the photo of the wires and spider, I thought that worked best of them all..

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