I share a contradiction with a great many people. I am an animal lover but, not to the point of vegetarianism. This lands me in a dilemma, I've just read about the game keepers on the Highland Estates who have been charged with poisoning 'birds of prey'
This of course is an exercise in making money, rich people come to these places to shoot birds and these bigger birds like to kill and eat the same smaller birds that rich people kill in the name of sport.
Deer hunting, fox hunting, dog fighting, bear bating, cock fighting, badger hunting etc. etc. all come into the same category, I detest them.
I have never been able to understand where the enjoyment/pleasure comes from in killing these creatures.
In various parts of Scotland, mainly the highlands I've seen these magnificent birds hunting, I remember being stretched flat on the side of a high ridge in the Cairngorms at a place called 'Glenfeshie' watching two Eagles circling at such a height that they were just black dots and only visible through field glasses.
My patience was rewarded as they dropped lower and lower until one of them was low enough to have a close look at me before gliding back up to it's mate, an incredible experience. I've also seen an Osprey hit a fish on the surface of a Loch Garten and carry it off, a huge thrill.
I sat gazing out of my office window in Glasgow one day and a Sparrow Hawk hit a pigeon no more than 6 ft. away and 6ft. off the ground, when the cloud of feathers settled, there he was with the dead pigeon in his talons staring straight at me defiantly, a lofty neanderthal stare, utterly chilling, even from a winged creature no bigger than the pigeon he was about to eat.
That Sparrow Hawk was a perfect miniature of the mighty Golden Eagle, fearsome and beautiful just like his ancestors thousands or maybe millions of years ago and only a fraction of his bigger cousin's size.
The poet Ted Hughes imagines the thoughts of a 'Hawk roosting' like this :-
"It took the whole of creation to produce my foot, my each feather:"
"I kill where I please because it is all mine"
"My manners are tearing off heads"
"Nothing has changed since I began"
"My eye has permitted no change. I am going to keep things like this"
I can never remember if the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest land creature, but I know he's right up there, I watched two Ospreys in an exciting tussle with one near their nest until the Falcon got bored, done a couple of circles round them, as if to show his superiority and left.
There were several 'twitchers' there in a hide and their enthusiasm for the mid air ballet they were watching was incredible, more excited than football fans watching a winning goal.
If game keepers are found guilty of poisoning/killing these birds they should be dealt with severely and their employers, the privileged rich who own these estates should be thrown in jail.
If the Scottish Govt. did this, SNP or not I would congratulate them, now where's that burger.